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Monday, 11 March 2019

How to use your warm-up Strategically

We all know how to warm a horse up so that he is ready to do work without injury.  But do you know how to use your warm-up to help you?  Here is my basic warm-up to improve my whole ride.  


Start your warm up by walking your horse around on a long rein.  Really let him stretch out and swing his back as he starts to warm up.  

When you feel him free up, you can start to bend him on a small circle.  If there are jumps set out in the school, I like to bend him around the jump.  Do a couple small circles on each rein then, as you are circling, move him out into a spiral.  You want your horse to be supple so practice now to get it through the whole ride.  

I also like to move his hind (turn on the forehand) and fore (turn on the haunches) so that he is really moving away from my leg.  

I then work to shorten and lengthen his walk.  I do this because if you can do something in walk, you probably not be able to do it at trot or canter.

A Chestnut horse being ridden at walk in a indoor school


I start trotting by 'pushing' him with my seat.  Just do a couple of walk-trot-walk transitions on each rein before you go into trot work.  I do a lot of bending on small and large circles, flexing to the inside and outside and leg yield work.  

Trot up the three-quarter line and ask for a leg yield (inside seat, inside leg behind the girth, inside hand for bend, outside rein for steering, outside leg for impulsion).   

I like to use a lot of transitions to really improve the horse's impulsion.  I like to do rein back-trot, trot-halt-trot and walk-trot-halt.  

A grey horse being ridden at a dressage show in an outdoor riding school


First, learn which of the three ways to ask for canter you need.  I like to make it quite easy for my horse at the beginning of canter so I always start with a trot-canter transition.  

With canter, I always look for a good rhythm, bend and balance.  When I have this I will start working with shortening and lengthening.  This is to set up control for the rest of the ride.  

I then start using harder transitions to work on impulsion.  I like to do walk-canter-walk, rein back-canter and canter-halt.  

By the end of the warm-up, I am looking for the horse to really sit back onto his hind legs so he is riding uphill.  

A chestnut horse being cantered around an outdoor school filled with jumps


I am not a horse trainer or any other equestrian professional.  I only give advice on horsey topics that I have experience as a horse owner in.  Please don't follow my advice without contacting a relevant equestrian professional.  


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