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Where does lateral work fit into your warmup?

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  • Where does lateral work fit into your warmup?

    Often working alone- I was curious where do you fit your lateral work into your warm up?

    Is it ok at while just walking at first to put in shoulder in, travers ect or would there be more benefit in warming up the horse in all three gaits before lateral work? The horse is confirmed in all movements and has a fabulous cat like free moving walk. Interested to hear what others do!

  • #2
    I do some of both--some days I spend more time during the walking phase doing lateral work/suppling exercises and other days I work at these more in trot warmup. Depends on the level of suppleness/relaxation he is offering and I can usually tell what sort of day it will be when we head out to the arena. If he comes out pony walking or tense/distracted we probably need some suppling/lateral work in the walk.
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    • #3
      I use lateral work throughout my warmup and my ride. I usually walk on a totally loose rein for 10 - 15 minutes. After that I pick up my contact and do a lot of suppling in walk - changing bend from left to right, small circles, shoulder in, sometimes leg yield to get him responsive to the aids. After that I tend to do some deep and round trot work to get him working nicely over his back. I also often incorporate some shoulder in during trot as well - if he's stiff I ride a sort of exaggerated shoulder in with the goal of greater suppleness. If I want more energy and forward I usually move straight to canter after the walk. Today he was a bit resistant to my outside rein to the left so it was shoulder-in to renvers transitions, asking him to flex at the poll and soften in the mouth. It really depends on how he feels that day - I are adjust depending on what he needs to improve his collected work. More important than when you do the lateral work is the why. There should always be a purpose, You should really think about and understand what you are trying to accomplish, otherwise the lateral work can't be used as an effective tool.

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      • #4
        I personally don't like to do lateral work at the walk much. I think it is too easy to vertutz everything and ride constipated.

        I usually do a few laps long and low at trot and canter, and then pick up the canter and start with canter plie. Then shoulder fore in canter, maybe a little half pass, then down to the trot for steeper angles of same.

        The most I generally do at the walk is a few little visits to TOH/walk pirouette when the horse needs a breather and then back to trot and canter work.
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        • #5
          Freewalk for warm up, and then a lot of lateral work (si/r/t/ and then reverse pirouettes/tof/toh as part of riding squares/etc. Supple everything in walk (with free walk breaks to extend the neck/relax the horse/etc), then the gait which is most user friendly to the horse (canter for older horses). A horse works 'over the back' when it is properly connected/upright and can chew fdo (have a mobile jaw), not when it is closed in the throat latch.

          For horses which don't yet do lateral work, lots of circles/half circles/serpentines/clearly ridden corners (according to their level of training) with clear placement of rider's legs, clearly allowing lateral flexion first and then bend.
          I.D.E.A. yoda

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          • #6
            I do bend the neck at the walk to try to supple the back, but I make sure the horse is moving straight. Its way to easy to ruin a good walk by making it lateral, so I prefer not to "teach" the horse he can do it.
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            • #7
              The rider should lightly flex the horse laterally (at the atlas/axis), but bend is equal through the body. If the neck is bent rather than flexed lightly flexed laterally the horse will fall over the outside rein.

              The reason a walk is easy made lateral (or have the lateral tendency of 12 34) is because riders chase the horse into over tempo (to try to keep the walk which they are often blocking because of a lowered/closed posture).

              Keep the right (upright) balance with a lightly open posture and the correct tempo and the horse will never become lateral.

              That said IF the horse is lateral, the two ways to fix it are: counted (slowed) walk and/or shoulder fore/in.
              I.D.E.A. yoda

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              • #8
                Every horse is a bit different... But for my more advanced horse - we start with forward walk on a loose rein, just get in front of the leg, stretch the muscles. When I pick him up, we do lateral work at the walk - SI, travers, half pass, all of it - it really helps to get him feeling softer and limber. In between the lateral work, it is forward - no "constipated walk". Anytime the gait deteriorates (walk, trot, or canter), it should be refreshed - forward and straight!


                Then we go to trot and canter work - initially lots of bending lines (circles, serpentines), then to lateral work in trot and canter.

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                • #9
                  We like to do what Henriquet calls "epaule en dedans sur le diagonale" Thats a shoulder-in on the diagonal frequently done during the warmup.
                  With a big greenie who takes a longer (20 min) warmup everytime to start to relax his back (keep in mind I start off with the flexions before I even mount). I begin after about 10 mins of warmup with the diagonale at A and shoulder-in going forward till M. Then we progress from A to B, all at walk, trot, canter.
                  For us a longer slower warmup gives me great lateral mouvements with quality and minimal effort on my part (just placing my body correctly) during the real work.
                  Sometimes we'll do light hill work in our warmup and walking back down I'll ask him for shoulder in on the diagonale left and right and left - good way for me to test his balance, responsiveness.
                  If we do more of a canter warmup some days, we'll do canter shoulder-ins on the diagonale.

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                  • #10
                    I do quite a bit of warmup at the walk with my older/trained horses. Generally when I have issues with the halfpass in the trot or canter it's because I'm not getting the bend to permeate all the way through the body-- an issue which is generally present in all gaits.

                    I do a lot of leg yield/halfpass zigzags with my trained guys. My young horse gets tense about walk work ("When will the real work start? Now? How about now? NOW?!?") so she's best going straight to work at the trot working on some adjustability. When she finally starts breathing, then I can revisit the walk.

                    My warmup tends to change to address whatever I'm feeling that day, though.

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                    • #11
                      It depends on where the horse is at in its training. It also depends if they are the type of horse that uses a lot of lateral.

                      You can use lateral to rev up the engine or relax so you would use it where and whenever. Personally I try to just do a few strides at a time in warm up vs a whole side or even half because most usually they are still getting their swing on.

                      I like to use the walk lateral with a more tense horse but not tense enough to fizz out. Just the right amount of tense and foward to use it because otherwise they come behind the leg.

                      I like to use lateral in canter the most but that is the horse I am ridings choice because she warms up best in canter.

                      I actually like a couple of trot poles for warmup and focus on the back more and supple at warm up before lateral.
                      ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
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                      • #12
                        It depends on the level your horse is. Mine is currently working at 1st level, so his warmup is more of a loosening process.

                        I begin with about 10 minutes on a loose rein with an active walk, during which I stretch out myself as well. I then pick up the reins and test my buttons at the walk - does he flex at the poll? Is he moving down and out when I ask? Is he listening to my leg for forward and for sideways? These questions come in the form of leg yields, totf, toth, walk-halt transitions, and transitions within the walk. On most days, we are off and trotting within minutes. On other days we spend 15 more minutes at the walk. Every now and then I just get up in two point and we have a good canter.

                        Once in the trot and canter, I warm up with loosening exercises. True lateral movements (si, r, t, hp) are collecting movements. They help the hind legs come underneath the horse's center of gravity, increasing engagement. I do not feel that these movements are easy enough for my horse to use for warmup yet. We do lots of forward and straight, some counter flexion, leg yielding, and transitions between and within gaits. After about 15 minutes of that with a couple free walk breaks, we are ready to begin work.

                        If I listened to my horse and rode the first 30 minutes as he needed, he is light, in front of my leg, even in both reins, and moving equally off both legs (as much as he can at his point in training). At this point, we can begin our lesson for the day during which I do incorporate lateral work.

                        I know this works for my horse because if I attempt lateral work during his warmup, he looses forward, feels stuck, and gets heavy in my hand looking for support. If I wait until he is properly warmed up, lateral work comes very easy to him. He is able to maintain a consistent tempo, and carries himself. In other words, the lateral work is able to do it's job of improving my horse, rather than causing his movement to get stuck.

                        If lateral work enhances your horse's gaits during your warmup, then they may be appropriate for you, but if your horse struggles with them and you find yourself having to use a lot of leg or hand to get through them, then you should probably wait until he is warmed up and ready for them.

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                        • #13
                          If lateral work is not creating energy ('the wish to go), then something is problematic in its balance (too much longitudinal flexion?).
                          I.D.E.A. yoda

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                          • #14
                            No, I never do. That is because the muscles need to be warmed up before doing suppling exercises. The way to warm up the muscles is by trot/canter. Why do collecting exercises (s/i, travers, etc.) in the warmup? Whatever...it's your choice what you do.

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                            • #15
                              Muscles are warmed up by walking, that is also what (about 10-15min) makes the synovial fluid more viscous. Then suppling exercises in walk (from circles (which is a kind of lateral flexibility) to serpentines/etc). Do you go straight (pardon the pun) from walking on a straight line to trotting/cantering w/o any figures in walk?
                              I.D.E.A. yoda

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                                Do you go straight (pardon the pun) from walking on a straight line to trotting/cantering w/o any figures in walk?
                                Yep.
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                                • #17
                                  Muscles may warm up in walk too but many horses get jiggy or tight being kept at walk to start. I can coung on 5 hands how many times a clinician has said as much about wtc skipping walk for a beat if you find the horse resisting.

                                  But at the same time then there is the behind the leg horse that needs to skip walk a beat because you had to finish the job of asking for forward with the leg without nagging and I do that by pushing the horse into trot and trot into canter until we can come back with some semblance of reaction.
                                  ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                                  http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

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                                  • #18
                                    I cannot imagine not walking a horse for a long period both to relax and allow the joints to warm up. The question is why the horse would resist walking on a loose rein, or walking on curved lines (also because lateral flexibility on a circle allow the horse to go into the outside rein/be controlled by the outside rein as well.

                                    But it is interesting that resistance would be caused by a horse 'being kept'/restrained in walk. Is the rider allowing the bascule within the gait or ???

                                    IF the horse is behind the leg or forward into the hand in walk again the question is why?

                                    Interesting that these thing would have not been issues if the horses where not somehow blocked by other work imho.

                                    With ottbs there might be some logic in allowing the trot, but in the end the solution is more in letting the horse walk out (miles away from home if necessary) and train it to different responses (in hand and under saddle).
                                    I.D.E.A. yoda

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                                      I cannot imagine not walking a horse for a long period both to relax and allow the joints to warm up.
                                      Some horses step off from the mounting block relaxed. And, at any point in the work, even if the horse is being slightly challenged, the rider can come back to a walk on the buckle and find a relaxed horse at the end of the rein.

                                      Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                                      The question is why the horse would resist walking on a loose rein, or walking on curved lines (also because lateral flexibility on a circle allow the horse to go into the outside rein/be controlled by the outside rein as well.
                                      Who said their horse is resisting walking on a loose rein? I can speak only for my own horses, but mine will go on a several hour trail ride on a loose rein, so a few easy laps around the arena at walk/trot/canter is no biggie to them.

                                      I guess I don't see why, on a horse that will be perfectly relaxed from step one stretching politely and fluidly for the rein, it is necessary to limit the warm up to the walk.

                                      We do relaxed tours of the arena on a loose rein with one hand on the buckle at three gaits to warm up.

                                      Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                                      Interesting that these thing would have not been issues if the horses where not somehow blocked by other work imho.
                                      Not sure what I am meant to be blocking with one hand on the buckle and the horse stretching out, .

                                      I'm still not quite sure what "issues" I (or someone else who might warm up similarly) would be apparently having while riding along happy as can be (at a gait other than walk) in the warm up. Why is relaxation and fluidity limited to only the one gait?
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                                      • #20
                                        (I am not disagreeing with you, but neither am I speaking of walking only on a loose rein, but of doing figures in walk before going on to the next gait.) THe question is really about where does lateral work (or exercises which cause lateral flexibility) fit into warm up. I just cannot imagine not using figures in walk before going to t or c.
                                        I.D.E.A. yoda

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