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. At the end of your warmup, your horse should be attentive and fully available to you.
Your job is to entertain your horse and make him desire to be involved with you. If you pick up the phone, they’ve got to pick up the other end.
Understand the Importance
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. If a horse’s body is not in the right place before working, significant physical damage can be done. Consistently skimping on the warmup can and will affect the longevity of your horse’s career. Aside from helping your horses to be more physically sound, warming up also contributes to performance. Performance improves 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.
Get to Know Your Horse
While a proper warmup is always crucial, the exact style of this warmup will differ from horse to horse. Each horse has its ideal mental and physical place for performance, and you need to find what this means for your horse. Some horses achieve this balance through a longer warmup, while others prefer a shorter one. If your horse does not perform well after an extensive warmup, you need to find an alternative way to loosen up their bodies, such as a long hack. You can also try doing a pre-ride or breaking your warmup into multiple segments. If you have a horse that tends to get anxious in crowded arenas, try finding a secluded space to begin your warmup. You should not attempt to determine your perfect warmup routine at the competition–this needs to be done in training.
I am warming up at home with the goal of putting the best warmup together for each individual horse at the show.
Doing so will increase your confidence because you are developing a plan for getting yourself and your horse ready to compete.
As aforementioned, each horse will require a unique warmup routine to get its body and mind best prepared for training and competition. However, there are general guidelines to follow.
If you’re not doing 40 transitions in two minutes, you are not doing your job.
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 having warmed 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 spend time on a proper warmup. With dedicated time and a thoughtful plan to prepare your horse for work, your stress will go down and your performance will improve. 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.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
The USEA Emerging Athlete (EA21) Regional Clinics continued farther down the West Coast yesterday to the picturesque town of Paso Robles, California. Nestled in the countryside between rolling hills and vineyards, the beautiful Twin Rivers Ranch played host to this invitational event.
Richard Mark Picken, 53, lost a courageous battle with cancer on August 13, 2022, dying peacefully at home. Born in the UK, he emigrated to Kentucky in 2013 and became an instant fixture on the US Equestrian Federation’s eventing and show jumping circuits. A top coach and trainer, he traveled throughout the USA and overseas with his students to competitions. He enjoyed coaching young riders and training inexperienced horses as much as he thrived under the pressure of an international championship.
Riders returned to Aspen Farms in Yelm, Washington for the final day of the USEA Emerging Athlete (EA21) Regional Clinic with USEA Instructor's Certification Program (ICP) Level IV Certified Instructors Rebecca Brown on Tuesday. Coming off of a solid first day focusing primarily on proper flatwork and dressage basics, the twelve young riders took to the outdoor arena for the show jumping portion of the clinic.