How to win your first gymkhana

Winning a gymkhana is an dark art indeed. As hundreds of small people and ponies scramble on and off and up and down lines of bendy poles, the eventual winner needs speed, guts and an unflappable mount.

Here are our top tips at Country Life for coming out on top, before, during and after the event:

* It will probably be on the leading rein so make sure your father is fit

* Lunge your pony the day before to calm him down. Extra bucking will only slow you up.

* Practice some of the likely events before you get there. Bending poles, potato race and Round the World are good bets.

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* Be good at getting on and off.

* Try running and jumping in the sack race. Different sacks need different techniques

* Give your pony a good pat at the end and a carrot if you’ve got one

* Always say thank you to the organisers at the end (it’s polite and they will probably remember you favourably next time)