1. Pick up a posting trot through the in-gate and into the middle of the ring.
2. Walk. Take a deep breath, relax and get comfortable.
3. Bear off to the right or left and pick up the canter.
4. Establish your pace. In the early part of the opening circle, put your leg on to exceed the speed that you plan to ride the course. Then relax your leg a little to settle into the pace you want.
5. Approach your first fence. Home in on the distance you want and make any adjustments early and smoothly.
Excerpted from "Create an Awesome Opener" by Geoff Teall in the April 2007 issue of Practical Horseman magazine. To learn how to incorporate breathing into your on-course plan, see "Help Me Catch My Breath" (Here's How) in the March 2008 issue of Practical Horseman.