What To Know at an FEI Show: The Warm-Up

A successful warm-up is the key to a winning performance in the competition ring no matter what discipline. At the international level in a Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) show, there are particularities to be aware of when warming up. Being mindful of the specifics will ensure your warm-up goes smoothly and according to plan. For more information about regulations in the FEI stabling area, read part one of BarnManager’s What to Know at an FEI Show blog here.

10-Minute Area

For international dressage competitions, there is a 10-minute area, which is a designated space in the larger warm-up ring. This area serves as the last practice ring before entering the competition arena. Though riders are not required to use this space, there is only one athlete permitted in the 10-minute area at a time. This allows the next competing rider space to prepare any movements without the interference of other horses.

Order of Go

Since there is a set order of go, warm-up obstacles for cross-country and jumping are made available according to that list. If there are four warm-up jumps available, the next four riders to compete will be using those obstacles. When you are with the fifth horse in the order, you should plan to use the jump that the first horse is using once they are finished. An FEI steward in the warm-up area can help you if you are unsure of the order.

Jump Setting

The FEI stewards monitor show jumping and cross-country warm-ups. They ensure that all jumps being set are compliant with FEI rules. In all cases, obstacles being jumped must be marked with a white flag and a red flag. The red flag represents the right side of the obstacle, while the white flag represents the left side. The jump must be approached in the direction the flags indicate. If a rider wishes to approach the obstacle in the opposite direction, the flags must be changed with approval from the Chief FEI Steward.

In cross-country, the show’s organizers must provide jumps that can be knocked down as well as fixed obstacles to use to warm-up. Keep in mind that for the obstacles that can be knocked down, there are guidelines for how the poles must be used depending on the height and style of the jump.

Photo by Jump Media

Use of Extra Jumping Material and a Liverpool

In any FEI warm-up, you cannot cover the warm-up obstacles with extra materials like a scrim sheet, cooler, or towel. You also cannot bring any additional jumping materials to the warm-up. The show’s organizers must provide at least one liverpool that can be used if the athlete chooses.

If you are setting jumps for the warm-up and your rider would like to use the liverpool, be sure to keep an eye on it in the warm-up area. Typically, there are only one or two liverpools that are shared between all the riders. You’ll have to see when someone is finished using it before being able to use it yourself. Keep in mind other riders are warming up too. It’s also important to remember to pay attention to the other horses when you pass the warm-up fences. This is especially necessary when you are carrying a larger, spookier object like a liverpool.

Pre-Competition Boot Check

Both international eventing cross-country and show jumping competitions have pre-competition boot checks. Previously, riders could ask an FEI steward to conduct the boot check in the middle of the warm-up ring during their warm-up. Now, for safety reasons, the FEI steward(s) who are conducting the pre-competition boot check are located just outside the warm-up area or in a corner of the arena off to the side. Riders can still pause their warm-up routine to complete the boot check. However, it is important to note that doing so requires a little more planning since the horse likely needs to leave the ring to be checked before returning to finish their warm-up and head into the competition arena.

The FEI stewards conducting the boot check use walkie-talkies to communicate with the other FEI stewards in and around the warm-up. They keep track of everyone who completes the boot check by referencing the horse’s competition number. The competition number should be clearly displayed on the horse. It is helpful to also say the number aloud to the steward. In addition to checking all leg and footwear on the horse, the FEI steward will physically examine the competition hind boots to confirm they are compliant with the rules. They then will observe the groom or rider put the competition hind boots on the horse and fasten them to be sure this has been done correctly. Once the boot check has been completed, the boots cannot be changed or adjusted in any way without the supervision of an FEI steward.

Remember that every horse must complete the boot check. It is possible for multiple riders to want their horses checked at the same time. The boot check typically only lasts a few minutes. The FEI steward will try to prioritize horses depending on the order of go. Even still, having a plan for when you will complete your boot check is essential for a smooth, unrushed warm-up.

Special Cases

Some horses get nervous with a lot of horse traffic. If there is an additional warm-up area besides the one being generally used, the rider can ask an FEI steward for permission to use the other arena. An FEI steward must be available to monitor that warm-up area in order to make the request possible. A rider can also ask to go first in the class for a quieter warm-up experience for the horse. Any concessions made will be on a case-by-case basis and up to the Chief FEI Steward. What might be possible one time, might not be another.

Keeping track of the little nuances of the warm-up will help your competition preparation run smoothly. Make sure your whole team understands the plan and rules, so they are ready to execute their individual responsibilities. For more information about entering an FEI show, read BarnManager’s FEI Paperwork blogs with part one about horse passports here, part two regarding registrations and entries here, and part three pertaining to the check-in and jog here.

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

Getting Paperwork Organized for an FEI Competition: The Check-In and Jog

Even after preparing the horse’s passport and completing all of the registrations and entry paperwork, there are still some steps before being accepted at a Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) competition. Staying aware of everything you need and the timing of the FEI schedule at the show can help you make the best plan for your team and the horse. Read the first part of our FEI Paperwork blog HERE, and find the second piece HERE.

Before Arriving at the Show:

All FEI competing horses must be stabled in the designated FEI stabling compound. New in 2022, the FEI is now requiring a digitally signed waiver attesting to the horse’s health, as well as body temperature recordings of the horse in the morning and afternoon for three days prior to entering FEI stabling. This information needs to be recorded in the FEI Horse Manager mobile app. It should be completed by the staff taking care of the horse in FEI stabling throughout the competition. Temperature also needs to be taken in this manner for every day the horse is in FEI stabling.

Another important thing to check before getting to the show is FEI stabling credential passes. Only people with FEI stabling credentials are permitted to enter the FEI stabling area at any time. Some competitions give out credential wristbands at the veterinary inspection jog. At other shows, those with connections to the competing horse who wish to enter the FEI area, such as owners, riders, and trainers, need to apply for a stabling credential prior to arriving at the show and then pick up their pass – usually from the FEI office. There is a limit to how many people can have credentials per horse, and the number varies per show. It is a good idea to check how many credentials you may be given ahead of time if that might be a concern for your team. Look for announcements from the show’s organizers about when you should receive your credentials, how many are being distributed per horse, and if there are additional forms to complete.

Checking In to the Stabling Area:

All competing horses must arrive at the FEI stabling compound and complete the initial check-in process during the allotted time listed in the official FEI schedule. You will need your horse’s competition back number, so be sure to stop by the show office to pick it up. Plan your arrival to the show so you can promptly unload your trailer and have enough time to check-in.

The vets at the check-in verify the horse’s identity by scanning the microchip. They cross-reference that with the passport and back number. They also confirm the temperature logs and the horse’s temperature upon arrival to FEI stabling. Ensure that you come prepared with the horse’s passport, number, and enough help such that someone can hold the horse and someone else can take the temperature to present to the show vet.

Remember that once the horse has been admitted to the FEI stabling compound, it cannot leave the show grounds until it has finished competing for the week. Any time a horse temporarily leaves FEI stabling for exercise, hand walking, bathing, or competition, the person at the FEI stabling entrance gate needs to be able to see the horse’s back number to record when the horse leaves and re-enters the FEI stabling area.

Horses outside of the FEI stabling area need to be monitored by the FEI stewards. You must use the FEI-designated areas for riding, grazing, bathing, and competition. If the horse is temporarily leaving FEI stabling, it is essential that either the horse or horse-handler has the horse’s back number attached to them in some capacity. Many grooms choose to have a secondary number that they keep on them at all times when working in FEI stabling.

The Veterinary Inspection Jog:

The jog, also known as the veterinary inspection, happens at an indicated time after the check-in window. There might be separate jog times for different levels of competition if they are happening concurrently, or the jogs might happen simultaneously. Be sure to make note of the time of the jog and have a plan for your horse’s schedule. Some people like to have their horses ridden before the inspection so they are looser and more relaxed. If that is the case, you need to allow enough time to have the horse properly cooled off and groomed. Though it is not an official rule, it is generally expected that horses arrive at the jog nicely turned out. Remember that the jog is a veterinary inspection. This means that your horse should not have any tack or equipment besides the bridle. If it is raining, you could cover your horse with a rain sheet while you wait in line, but you’ll be asked to remove it for the actual jog.

At the veterinary inspection, the passport is checked thoroughly. You also have to jog the horse down and back for soundness on the designated strip. For this, you need the horse, passport, and number. If all goes well and the horse passes inspection, the stewards will keep the passport until the horse leaves FEI stabling at the conclusion of its competition week.

Make sure you factor enough time for the jog into your plans for the day. It can be challenging to avoid waiting in line since every horse needs to be seen at the inspection. Arriving a little early can sometimes help mitigate waiting for an extended period of time.

If you have a stallion, confer with a steward about where to wait for your turn to jog. In order to keep all the horses and people safe, stewards will usually keep stallions separated from the general lineup. They will slot them into the inspection when they can. If you have a particularly challenging horse to handle, it is always a good idea to speak with the steward ahead of time, so you can be as cautious as possible.

Don’t forget that you will need to jog your horse in a snaffle bit or double bridle. You will need to do this even if it is not something they use ordinarily. You can jog with the reins of the bridle, a lead line, or a lunge line. It is best to think about how your horse might react to the atmosphere at the jog and plan accordingly.

Making lists of what you need for each phase of the check-in and jog process can help you stay organized. Having reminders on your phone for different timings can also be helpful. While it can seem daunting at first, the great thing about participating in FEI competitions is that you are among the best athletes, stewards, veterinarians, grooms, etc. It is a great opportunity to learn, and the added intensity will make your successes feel even sweeter. Enjoy the experience, and don’t forget to retrieve your horse’s passport once you are done competing before you head home!

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

5 Tips for Keeping Calm Under Pressure

As we near the end of the year, although 2020 looks different than previous years, equestrian sports are in the midst of “finals” season. If you are participating in any of the finals this year, whether it be your first time or you’re a seasoned finals veteran, you probably know firsthand how easy it is to succumb to the high pressure the environment fosters. These only come once a year, they’re expensive to participate in, and most finals only give you one shot, which means if you make a mistake you’re toast. Here are some tips to help deal with the pressure that comes along with competing, no matter how high the stakes are.

1. Breathe deeply.

Have you ever heard about the breathing trick that helps you fall asleep faster? The science behind it is that it helps slow your heart rate so you can fully relax and fall asleep. Though you don’t want to fall asleep at the in-gate, breathing can still come into play with slowing your heart rate and thus calming nerves. Try taking a deep breath in for about four seconds, then exhale for eight seconds, then repeat a few times.

2. Imagine it going well.

Often our nerves are heightened by thoughts of everything that could go wrong. While it can be hard to push these things out of your mind, it’s much more beneficial to picture the experience being a success and to think through what is needed on your part in order to achieve that. Visualize yourself on the other side having succeeded. If you dwell on what could go poorly, you’re allowing space in your mind for failure. If you only allow positive thoughts and sentiments in moments like these, your stress will ease and there will be a higher likelihood for the event to go well.

3. Make a plan and focus on it.

If your plan is detailed and thorough, you won’t have time or space in your mind to let negative thoughts creep in. Talk with your trainer, walk your course, and make the most comprehensive plan for you and your horse, with appropriate back-up plans where needed. A strong plan of action is the best preparation for a big class or final, and if you place it top of mind, the stress will seem to fade.

4. Think of everything you’re grateful for.

In the moment, this class causing stress can seem huge. But in the grand scheme of life, it’s just one day and there is so much more to being a horseman than competing. Think of the horse beneath you and how grateful you are for what your horse does for you. Think of your trainer, who has put in countless hours to help you prepare for moments like these. Remember your loved ones who support this crazy dream we all share. When you think about things in life for which you’re grateful, you minimize the pressure from the situation and fill your mind with happy thoughts. Know that you will still have all of these things, regardless of the outcome of any given final.

5. Use positive affirmations.

You’ve put in the hours and hours of hard work to arrive at this moment, so you know, deep down, you are ready and capable. Echo that to yourself until you fully embody it. Know that you are strong and that you can rise to this challenge. Trust that your horse will be there for you and you will give it the best ride you can. Above all, go in determined to enjoy the experience, no matter the outcome.

 

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!