Imagine: you are at the biggest sporting event of your life. The stakes are high, and you have spent countless hours preparing for it. However, you are expected to just show up and immediately perform. You cannot stretch or take a practice swing. You have no time to loosen up or sharpen your eye. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Just like us, our horses need adequate time to warm up each day. A warmup is any preparation for work, and it is often the leading edge of that work. It is the small aid response that becomes the more advanced aid response.
I teach a lot of clinics, and I see a number of people skimp on the warmup at the expense of the ride. I rarely see proper warmups before lessons. At home, I often see the same thing. I wonder if it is just difficult to formulate a warmup plan. I think some people feel that a warmup for our horses is similar to stretching before a run or workout for ourselves, and they rationalize that skipping it is acceptable. It is crucial to understand the importance of proper warming up.
Muscles, tendons, and ligaments are more elastic if they have been properly warmed up, and this helps to prevent injuries. That alone is reason enough to include a proper warmup in your daily rides. Aside from helping your horses to be sounder, warming up also contributes to performance. Performance increases when the horse and rider are ready to answer questions. A quick response to our aids can only be achieved with adequate preparation, and that preparation comes in the form of a thorough warmup. When you are practicing a challenging exercise, you want your horse to be mentally sharp and ready to respond to your cues–this cannot happen without a warmup.
You’re at a competition, and you are about to get on for show jumping. You have walked your course and your horse is tacked up and ready to compete. How long are you planning to be on before your first jump in the warmup ring? I would guess that this is too important of a day to begin jumping without a purposeful flat warm up first. In order to be able to structure a proper warmup at competitions, you must practice them at home. Doing so will increase your confidence, as you are developing a plan for getting yourself and your horse ready to compete.
When I did jumpers, my coach would not let us jump a single fence before we had done 45-60 minutes of flatwork. This made the first jump very easy to conquer because the proper warmup made our horses so rideable. That length of time may not be necessary for every horse, but some version of that is required.
In every sport, athletes prepare with a full warmup of stretching and sport-specific skill sharpeners to get ready for training and competition. However, far too often, riders show up right on time for jump and flat lessons without any warm up. You must take this sport seriously, because your horses depend on you. They cannot get themselves ready for the first jump or movement, and we owe it to them to allow time for a proper warmup. With more time for proper preparation, your stress will go down and your performance will go up. You will feel like you are in a better place to create solutions within your rides.
So, give your horse the warmup they deserve and–as always–pat your horse.
The United States Eventing Association, Inc. (USEA) is pleased to announce the renewed partnership with Rebecca Farm, as they return as a Gold Level Sponsor of the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention and the Official Sponsor of the Annual Meeting continental breakfast. The 2022 Annual Meeting & Convention will take place next week on December 7-11 at the Hyatt Regency Savannah Hotel in Savannah, Georgia.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce that the Eventing Riders Association of North America (ERAofNA) and Eventing Licensed Officials Committee (ELOC) will be hosting a very special Town Hall forum at the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting and Convention next week. This year’s Annual Meeting and Convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Savannah Hotel in Savannah, Georgia across December 7-11, and will also include the USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame gala and celebration.
In the final USEA Classic Series event of 2022, three horse and rider pairs rode their way to the top of the podium in the Training, Novice, and Beginner Novice 3-Day divisions offered during the Ram Tap Horse Park Horse Trials which took place November 18-20 in Fresno, California.
US Equestrian opened a bid process for one event to host the Advanced level in Area 3 on Week 10 for 2023-2027 due to an event cancellation. The bid process was conducted in accordance with the 2023-2027 U.S. Eventing Calendar CCI4*-L, CCI4*-S, CCI3*-L, & Advanced Policies and Procedures. The USEF Eventing Strategic Calendar Review Task Force made recommendations to the USEF Eventing Sport Committee who made recommendations for final approval by the USEF Board of Directors.