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Dos and Don’ts – Make the Most of Your Youth World Boot Camp

With the COVID-19 pandemic, youth riders haven’t been able to go to as many shows due to quarantine restrictions and cancellations. With fewer shows available to prepare for the bigger shows, the anticipation for the AQHYA World Show has been building even more than usual this year. Practicing at your trainer’s boot camp before Oklahoma City will be even more important this year to be ready and polished for your classes.

Your hard work and dedication are about to be shown off to the full extent. Before you can compete for one of those highly coveted World Champion trophies, you’ll need to make sure both you and your horse are prepared.

This time of preparation is typically known as “boot camp.” These days full of long riding hours in the heat of summer can make preparing for the world show a little less than ideal.

Here are some tips to make boot camp run a little smoother.

DO: Get up earlier. Get to the barn as soon as possible so you can get your riding done before it gets too hot. If your trainer lives far away, stay in a hotel or with a friend near your trainer so you can ride multiple times in one visit.

DON’T: Complain. Just don’t do it. Showing is not a right; it’s a privilege and something that you should continue earning. Your family doesn’t have to help pay for you to train, ride, and show horses. Your trainer doesn’t have to help you work with your horse. Your supporters don’t have to help you stay on track and mentally prepared. Be polite, don’t gripe.

DO: Thank your trainer. Helping you and your horse prepare for this one moment all year long isn’t easy. Trainers are responsible for more work than we give them credit for and appreciation will go a long way. Say “thank you” as much as possible.

DON’T: Be late. Your trainer undoubtedly has a busy schedule full of riding horses and working with clients. Be respectful and courteous, show up on time.

DO: Be an effective rider. You go to boot camp to prepare and improve, not play around and waste time. While cute ponies are a part of the fun, you’re there to work with them, not take selfies.

DON’T: Waste the rest of July and still expect to do well in August. Being ill-prepared is never a good thing, especially headed to one of the most prestigious shows of the year. Don’t waste your preparation time by not riding and preparing. Instead, ride as much as you can.

DO: Be organized. Get your outfits planned and ready, clean your tack, hat, helmet, and anything else you will need for the show. Make sure you know the show schedule, patterns, and order of draw.

DON’T: Overwork the pattern. Doing the same maneuvers over and over again in the same order will make your horse anticipate the maneuvers at the show, which could hurt your performance.

DO: Focus on the details—practice perfecting pieces of the pattern versus just doing the whole thing repetitively. Make sure you’re confident in your ability to perform all of the precise maneuvers you’re asked to perform in the pen.

DON’T: Be a sore loser. There are thousands of entries at this year’s AQHYA World Championship Show, which means there will only be a few lucky people walking away with the coveted golden globe. You win some, and you lose some, just be proud of the progress and support those around you.

DO: Have fun. This show only happens once a year, so enjoy it. Pet your horse, thank your trainers, hug your supporters, take pictures, and make memories. Enjoy your youth years while they last. It is especially important to take time to be present in the moment.

As this year’s AQHYA World Show draws closer, the boot camp and preparation is getting more and more critical. Be sure to treat your horse, trainers, and parents with respect by following these dos and don’ts.

When the last day of boot camp ends, your show time begins. Make sure you and your horse are prepared mentally and physically. Riding your horse is only half of the sport. The mental game plays a big part in determining who wins. Keep your head straight, your eyes up, and your heels down.

About the Author – Lauren Pursley is a devoted youth equestrian showing in the all-around events with her horse Lovin Some Lazy Lola. Lauren is the current Texas Quarter Horse Youth Association Reporter. In addition to competing in AQHA shows, Lauren competes in Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) horse shows, 4H Horse Judging, and is a member of the 4H Veterinary Science Club. Lauren enjoys working with horses, writing about horses, and equine photography.