How to be event ready with Hannah Klep

Hannah Klep is a 20 year old 3* Eventer based in Canberra, with an incredible team of horses ranging from Intro level to FEI3*. Hannah has been riding since she was 10, and did her first eventing competition when she was 13. It's safe to say that once she started, she never looked back - she spent 18 months after finishing high school training with Olympic medalist Shane Rose, and travelled overseas in 2019 with the Australian Young Rider Team with her amazing horse Reprieve.  Now riding full time, Hannah starts her days early at the racetrack before spending the day riding a range of performance horses and coaching. Hannah is sponsored by Amacron Equine, Hygain, Flexible Fit and Trailrace Saddlery.

We caught up with Hannah to get her tips on how to prepare your horse for their competition outings. Enjoy!

First up, how do you decide whether or not to enter a competition, for each individual horse? What do you want to be feeling when you ride/or seeing in your horses to know that they’re ready?

I sit down at the start of the year with the eventing calendar and make a plan for the horses I have at the time. Although some people like to take one competition at a time, I like to plan out what horses are going to which competitions so I can get them qualified to either keep progressing up the levels or prepare them towards an international three day event.

It’s very much an individual feeling of knowing when a horse is ready to move up the levels. The horse has to be confident and happy at each level but the level has to be challenging enough that they are interested in their work. When it gets to the highest levels I always look to experienced coaches for advice as I may be qualified but also not ready for the next step.

You compete widely as an eventer, with multiple horses – what do you think are the most important things to do in the weeks leading up to a big comp in terms of training?

In the weeks leading up to a competition my main priority is to have the horses fit, happy and healthy. When I am preparing a horse for an international three day competition I write out an 8 week plan working backwards from cross country day at the event. I set out what days the horse will gallop, jump, flat work or have a day off to ensure they in a routine of fitness.

Therefore the strenuous activity won’t be such a shock to their body when they have to gallop and jump for 10 minutes on cross country day.

If the competition is a more relaxed event over two days then I don’t have such a full on schedule for them. I like to jump them three days prior to leaving and then in the final two days I will precise the dressage test and hack them out so they aren’t tired before travelling.

What are the key items (other than the obvious, like tack and horses!) that you always take to a comp?

My Mum and my super groom Bianca! Two very important people that help me give the best performance I can on the day.

I like to be very organised and when riding more than one horse in different levels it can be quite stressful on my own so their help is invaluable.

Do you have any warm-up tricks that you rely on to get ready for each stage of eventing?

The dressage is all about timing, before the competition I need to know how long a warm up each horse needs as some will get sour and tired after 20 minutes and some still won’t be settled enough to do a nice test.

It’s very much a trial and error and being aware of how long you work your horse for at home to work out when they peak in their performance and when they start to physically or mentally fatigue.

Cross country I like to be in and out of the warm up within 5 minutes as long as the horse is a confident honest jumper. The cross country is strenuous enough I don’t think they need to jump 30 more jumps before heading to the start box.

If the horse isn’t great at cross country I will spend more time in the warm up, jumping each fence from a different pace and angles until they are confident in holding their line and rhythm.

Show jumping is tricky. Depending on how careful, experienced and sharp the horse is and how the horse jumps the first few jumps in the warmup helps me decide how much I need to do in the warmup.

If the horse is switched on and jumping well, I will let him walk and then jump one tall vertical before going into the ring. If the horse is a little dull and not jumping great I will make the jumps a little bigger and wider to help them focus on a more challenging fence.

Majority of horses learn after a mistake at a show jumping fence so I don’t mind if they have a little mistake in the warm up as they tend to the jump better in the ring.

Do you get nervous, and if so, what do you do to handle the nerves when they come?

Yes, I am a huge victim to nerves! I try to be aware of my nerves and tell myself it’s okay to feel this way. I’ve found that when I am too nervous to eat my performance is never great, no matter how nervous I am I always try to eat something an hour beforehand so my body can function! I’m less nervous the more organised I am, if I know my course well and my horse is ready to go then I just have to take each moment as it comes and trust my instincts.

And remind myself to breathe!

What’s the next comp you’re looking forward to attending? I had big goals to get two of my own horses to Adelaide Three Day Event, with that unfortunately being cancelled this year I am now aiming to qualify my Tulara warmblood horse for the Young Riders Series and head down to the Australian Jumping Championships at Boneo in November.

You can follow Hannah's journey with her incredible horses on Facebook and Instagram