With the digital age we almost all have camera phones these days and I can tell you now they are a fabulous tool when walking your XC course especially if walking the day (or several days) before.
When walking the course at each fence take a photo, making sure to take a separate image of each element. Even better, if you have a phone with apps consider downloading one of the specialist course walking apps which not only takes photos but also allows you to plot your route using GPS. I use CourseWalk which was particularly valuable last year at Aldon PN3DE where not only did I plot my course it also provided my minute markers. This meant I became very popular as very few others had the ability to work them out as understandably they didn’t have wheels etc Here you can see the coursewalk I uploaded from the event.
There are various positives for taking these photos but primarily they work as a fantastic visual aid when going back over the course in the evening preparing yourself for the next day. Although most event programmes give sketches of the fences they are often not available until the day of competition. I would advise to always take the photos on the same line you would jump the fence, also ultimately your memories are easily made inaccurate without you even realising so the photo will give you an accurate memory prompt. To illustrate my point take this simple exercise. What make and colour of car is parked next to yours right now? I would serve to guess unless it is your partner’s you will struggle to remember even if you only parked up a few minutes ago. I will bet several of you reading this will be convinced you know for certain the ‘correct’ answer, go check and I reckon you will be surprised how wrong you are. A small percentage will be able to answer correctly but this is a small percentage. My answer was a silver mercedes, in reality it is a silver BMW! (posh neighbours which makes my scruffy ford look even scruffier! 😉 ). There is no problem with getting such details wrong as it is only natural, but as you have the opportunity to take irrefutable reference photos you are silly not to.
Once the event is finished don’t just delete the photos, share them! Sites such as Shoestring Eventing collate sets of course photos which give riders a great opportunity to see a course in advance when deciding where to enter. Obviously a photo can not illustrate the full technicality of a course but they can give a good indication. You can use these resources yourself when considering which event you will compete at next, obviously courses change but there are only so many amendments you can make to feature fence such as a water jump or step complex.