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dressage warmups and excercises

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  • dressage warmups and excercises

    just getting this out first, dressage is the bane of my existance. Anyways, I am having difficulty coming up with a good warmup for our dressage rides, and feel as if I end up rushing into the workout. what are things that you guys aim to accieve in your warmups, and what are some excercises/tips you do to get the results you want? thanks!

  • #2
    Walking is excellent. I force myself to give my guy at least 5 minutes of a walk on a long rein in the beginning of our rides. Helps get him loose and relaxed and I can use it to check my position. Then I gather him up and walk on contact for at least another 5 minutes (usually more like 10 minutes) doing things like halt/walk/halt, rein back, turns on the forehand/haunches, a little leg yielding (on a circle, quarter line to the track, head to the wall, tail to the wall, etc.), and lots of bendy exercises. At this point, you'll already have passed 15+ minutes, your horse will be nice and supple and warmed up, and then you can start your trot work. I just like to focus my warmups on forward, straight, supple, loose, and relaxed. This always translates to better trot and canter work.


    • #3
      Well, I really like what JFC suggested. That's very similar to what I do. However, my horse is not the same everyday so I need to vary the warmup a little. I always start with 5-10 min of walk and stretching. On the days he is "raring to go" i will then jump to trot on loose rein in each direction and canter in two point each direction. Then he will come back and be ready for real trot work. Other days he comes out stiff and I spend lots of time suppling him at walk and trot. I have learned the hard way there is no point in trying to get to the "meat" of the work unless he is calm, forward, and suppled. So here I might do lots of serpentines, 10 m circles at walk/trot, spiraling circles, T on haunches, etc.


      • #4
        So much will depend on the horse!

        My warm up starts with a good bit of walking. We'll either go for a little stroll around the farm, or, if we're stuck in the ring, just walk and walk. Usually start on the buckle, but then working him in a longish-stretchy frame. Bending, leg yielding, counter bend, etc. We usually walk for 10-15 minutes....maybe a bit less if it is warm and he's been sitting in the mag/massage blanket (it definitely gets the warm up process started).

        For Toby, he does best moving right into canter. We will just canter, more or less on a long rein, around the ring. I don't do much to influence him. I just sit light, maybe encourage a little bend, and, if he's being spooky or just is wound up, I may strongly suggest that he stretch down. I can usually tell when he's ready to move to trot work....some days we may gallop on a bit longer than others!

        Once we move to trot work, we start long and low with lots of bending, inside and out. I'll start to get him solidly into the outside rein, do some shoulder in, usually the first few with an over bend a bit. Lots of changes of directions. Some leg yields, more shoulder in, maybe some haunches in. All while keeping a pretty long, stretchy frame. Though, as we warm up, he will come up gradually and come more into a proper working from.

        We'll do some transitions next. Usually, trot-canter-trot first (with simple changes of lead), then trot-walk-trot and trot-halt-trot. Typically, after a canter transition or two, he is quite warmed up and ready for real work....my hint is when I can sit the trot and his trot snugs me into the saddle. If I can't get that, then his back is not warmed up and supple enough for me to sit, and he will let me know!

        This all takes about 20-25 minutes. For dressage lessons, I usually plan for 15 minutes of solo warm up, then usually warm up with some coaching, working on some different ideas and exercises. For a dressage test, I plan for 30 minutes of warm up.


        • Original Poster

          Thank you! I will deffinatly be focusing on a lot of walking and suppling throughout this gait before moving on. I'm not the most patient person, so having a few guidelines and ideas really helps me from just rushing into my workout.


          • #6
            A good warmup is one that's customized to your horses weaknesses, and further tweaked to the issues of the day.
            I use a checklist as I warm up to endure I'm accomplishing everything I want.
            The goal of the warmup is a forward, supple, light horse ready to follow your lead with crispness but without tension.

            For example:
            I have a horse that likes to bulge his left shoulder
            Will swap behind if cantered too soon in warmup
            Has longitudinal issues
            Will hold his neck in upward canter transitions.

            His warmup emphasizes
            Shoulder in to the left
            Trot canter trot transitions while low and on the outside rein
            Shoulder for transitions
            Canter transitions from lateral work.
            chaque pas est fait ensemble


            • #7
              ^^ Yes. Your warm up should always be focused on what you need to work on most. Does your horse listen to the half halt? If not, do 100 half halts. Is your horse sharp off your aids for transition? If not then work on that.

              Do not try and fit everything in. Focus on one or two things, especially those worth x2 if you have no other agenda.


              • #8
                Agree with everyone here - why not give us a total description of your horse and issues and we can all share what we think could be a good warmup for you?

                I own 6 horses (one is a baby) - so the 5 that I have all have different warmups and have to do with their level, fitness, needs etc.

                I have a horse that is the type that if I skip 3 days of riding, a very long warm up is basically the first ride back to consistency - meaning - if I skip 3 days, I just do a long warm up and then we work the next day.

                And it depends what I am warming up for and where. There is a place I have shown twice in the last month and there is this big hill - walking this hotter horse up and down the hill a few times seem to equal like 45 minutes of what walking does for him in the arena. lol I wish I had that hill in my backyard!


                • #9
                  I try to do the exact same type of warm ups at home as I do at show.

                  Unfortunately there is not great answer. Every horse needs a different type of warm up to get the desired mind and body set to dish out a stellar test. Every workout will be different according to the horses skill level.

                  My warm ups are usually 3/4 of my ride! Then I take a few minutes at the end of my ride to tweak my horse and work him in the more 'up', 'competition position'.
                  Then of course I walk a lot and do a lot of stretch at the end.

                  I had one that took a lot of lateral. 1/2 pass and working pirouettes. I do that stuff no matter what level I'm showing.
                  Training competitors always looked at me crooked for doing canter working pirouettes in warm up with Boomer. But hey, that is what got his butt up and under.

                  Toby used to do a LOT of square turns and counter in the canter when warming up even for BN. My warm ups were mostly canter with him.

                  This new guy. He wears me out. I have to first take him and walk him and then let him have a bit of a run. Then he needs to do some walk and trot poles. Then, transition after transition after transition. bleeeck. Not fun.
                  Yesterday I think I did walk, rein back, walk, trot, canter, walk, rein back, turn on the haunch, trot, canter, walk, reinback....for a dang hour.
                  He's a douche though and likes to dork around with me still. Not quite where I want his work ethic just yet. ; )

                  But with all of that...I do the same exact thing at the show. The horse then knows EXACTLY what to expect and where we are going.

                  Kind of like tacking up. They know when you start screwing in studs and putting on porters that it's almost time to run fast and jump big. : )
                  Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                  • #10
                    Yes - very individualized. Some of the things listed here would just put my guy further to sleep before a dressage test.

                    In trying to tweak my warmup, I found a few very small schooling dressage shows nearby and entered for a handful of tests. I was then able to work out timing and feel in an actual show atmosphere for not a ton of money. I did get some funny looks as I hand-galloped my guy around before his afternoon test because he'd been sleeping on the trailer, but it worked!
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