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Whats your warm up routine?

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  • Whats your warm up routine?

    Just what the title says!

    Personally, I hadnt given it too much thought until recently. I've always walked once around the ring each way, done some lateral work, light bending and such (at the walk) and then continued onto trotting, cantering, and whatever else the lesson/ride involved.

    I've recently gotten to see someone else warm up a few times and their routine is so different from mine! They walk into the ring and whoa in the middle. They bend horses head back to each foot multiple times, do turns on the forehand/haunches, do a bit of lateral work, then get into their actual ride.

    Whats YOUR routine and how did you develop it? I wouldnt mind adding a few more warm up techniques into my routine!
    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

  • #2
    I usually do a brisk walk for about 7 minutes (this is the time it takes me to hack the long way to the outdoor ring) then I'll do a few laps of a more jog like trot in each direction, I ride on a straight rein and ask the horses to go forward off my leg but I'm not collecting much, with some of the younger horses I might then go into some similar canter work before bringing them back to the trot and asking them to collect, do lateral work or what have you.
    IMO good warmup is often neglected but it's really important for longevity and to minimize the risk of injuries.
    Horses are like small kids, they have a hard time focusing on actual learning for an extended period of time, so a 50 minute ride could very well be 15-20 min of warm up 10-15 min of work and then 15-20 min of cooling down.

    Also worth noting is that a brisk trot helps removing the lactic acid from the muscles better then walking so it might be a good idea to trot a few laps around the ring after your course and to perhaps keep trotting between exercizes instead of going back to the walk right away.
    Timothy, stop lurking


    • #3
      I have a few different warm up "routines" mostly because in the differences of horses.

      The school horses always get about 5-10 minutes of just walking around on a loose rein, mostly because we head out early and we are waiting for the prior lesson to finish. They almost always get hacked around the beginning of the lessons trotting on a nice loose rein with little contact. We are usually stretching ourselves while we do this. Then a quicknlittle canter to stretch and then we begin working at the trot

      My mare always got a few minutes walking on the terraces we had at school before we went in the ring. We trotted in a "stretchy" frame for a few minutes and then did a little canter. She never really paid attention and started to work until she got that first canter out of her system. Then back to th trot and beginning to work.

      The gelding I ride in the summers is what I refer to as the "exception to the rule of warm ups". Until you canter he is just a dopey pig as he goes around the ring. Canter first thing, just a lap each way and he's happy as a clam! I think he just prefers to stretch out that way.

      All the horses end with a nice forward trot on a loopy rein to let the stretch down and out as they please. And then a nice walk around the farm or through the woods if the weather is cooperating.


      • #4
        I walk on the buckle at first, but right away I am testing the forward. I expect the horse to march right along without me having to use my legs at all.

        Then I do some 2 or 3 laps and changes of direction in a long and low trot. I want the neck low and long but the horse poking his nose into the contact. Same deal with the forward.

        Then I do the same in canter. Same deal -2 or 3 laps, long and low, poked nose, motoring along with no leg needed to nag.

        On a jump day, that would be it and we would go straight to jumping after that.
        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


        • #5
          Walk a few laps on a loose to very loose rein, maybe toss in some "are you listening to my leg" maneuvers to see what kind of attitude he's bringing to the ride. I also take this time to review some of the centered-riding ideas that speak to my weaknesses, make sure I set both of us up for good communication.

          Then I'll do some trotting, just working on getting him forward. If he drops his shoulders in the corners like he's want to do, I'll do some work on that at the walk and trot. If all is well, though, I'll continue on and do some moderate contact work, just getting him in my hand a little.

          Then I'll canter a bit on a loose-ish rein, if possible, however our canter is our main focus of work so more often than not, it's not part of the warm-up, it's the actual task of the ride


          • #6
            Depending on the horse, I occasionally canter before I trot.

            I know, I'm a rebel. I find it allows them a little bit looser shoulder, perhaps its just my inability to ride a trot manifested terribly in the first trot of the day.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Pirateer View Post
              Depending on the horse, I occasionally canter before I trot.

              I know, I'm a rebel. I find it allows them a little bit looser shoulder, perhaps its just my inability to ride a trot manifested terribly in the first trot of the day.
              It's okay, my vet recommended that for my old, arthritic horse . In some cases it just helps them loosen up before you trot.

              I walk for about five minutes each direction. I do a little bit of ambling to start and then ask for unconditional forward and start getting him on the bit. I always start the same direction (force of habit from a never ending rehab!), but switch back and forth/figure eight often.

              Then I trot on a loose-ish rein for several laps in each direction. I try to get my horse focused and get him really working through his back. Then I do the same in the canter, focusing on getting my horse relaxed and stretching down and forward.

              Then I call my warm-up finished and get down to business, "real" flatwork or jumping depending on the day. I wouldn't do lateral work until this point. Before now I'm really only working on forward, relaxed, accepting the contact, etc.

              My warm-up takes about 20 minutes. I ride for about 25 (with a horse in good condition this period doesn't include many walk breaks and all breaks are "working" at the walk, not just walking) and then cool down for 15 or so. Before I cool down at the walk I do a couple laps of long and low trot in each direction. Then I drop the reins and let my horse pick the pace of walk for the rest of the ride.

              At a show I stretch the warm-up to more like 30 minutes, with more walking and cantering and then start warming up over fences.

              A proper warm up can help prevent injuries and I have to say I see people moving on to jumping in the warm-up at shows a lot more quickly than I think is safe/fair to the horse.
              Faibel Farms Custom Fly Bonnets
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              • #8
                I walk two laps both directions on the buckle, and during the second lap I flex him gently to the inside and outside. Next I move up to the trot, loose rein, a few laps in both directions, letting him drop his head and neck to stretch out. He warms up best in the canter, so our canter work is longer. A couple laps to start, then circles, and shortening and lengthening the stride. After a walk break we move onto serious trot work, more cantering involving lead changes, and then jumping if I'm in a lesson.
                Proud mother to Matt, a 18 year-old TB gelding.



                • #9
                  Me too...

                  Originally posted by Pirateer View Post
                  Depending on the horse, I occasionally canter before I trot.

                  I know, I'm a rebel. I find it allows them a little bit looser shoulder, perhaps its just my inability to ride a trot manifested terribly in the first trot of the day.
                  My older guy seems to appreciate a nice loose-rein canter after a good walk to warm-up. The vet said that he probably prefers it because it is less jarring on the hocks. Once he has cantered around in a nice Western lope-y kind of way, then he will go right into a nice frame and trot his little butt off... Then, we may catch another lap or two of a good solid canter in each direction. To each his own, I guess.
                  "The Prince" aka Front Row
                  Cavalier Manor


                  • #10
                    I canter too. My mare and I do some light contact figure eights at the walk and then it's right into one lap each direction in a on the buckle, me in two point canter. She has some back issues, and this is what works best for her. After that it's a fairly normal warm up.

                    Originally posted by Pirateer View Post
                    Depending on the horse, I occasionally canter before I trot.

                    I know, I'm a rebel. I find it allows them a little bit looser shoulder, perhaps its just my inability to ride a trot manifested terribly in the first trot of the day.


                    • #11
                      I'm usually walking for 5-10min on a jump day and 10-15 on a dressage day. On a jump day I want a good walk forward, him reaching for the bit evenly, responsive to the leg, bending both ways (often serpentines of 10m loops) and changing the rein easily. Then we trot focusing on forward with a good push and rhythm, before getting into some circles and bending. At any point I will do a little shoulder in if I feel he's not taking the contact. I'm making sure that he's responsive to the turning aids and taking the precise track I choose, neither drifting out or cutting in. Canter is much the same - forward push, rhythm first followed by the turns on my chosen track. My boy enjoys jumping and is very clever about it - he tends to get the challenging exercises down pat within three trips - and adds speed when he gets bored. So in the canter I'm setting up the forward, connected, up canter that I'll need to keep him contained when we do go to a jump. I usually pop over one or two single fences at the end of this bit of canter. Then a walk to catch our breath, while I work out where we're going to start and what I need to keep in mind based on how he's feeling that day.

                      I canter before trot sometimes too. I did almost every ride for several months at one point. I found I got a better trot if he cantered first. I have even done entire walk/canter rides. Now that he's progressed further I can get a good trot very quickly so I tend to trot before canter again.

                      I read somewhere that canter can be easier on the horse because the back can flex and stretch as a whole - warming up more gently than the opposing side stretch and flex required by trot.


                      • #12
                        I like to walk a few laps on the buckle in each direction, making sure it's a good marching walk. Then about 10-15 minutes of trot, lots of circles and direction changes because I get bored easily. Then a few laps of canter in each direction, on as loose of a contact as my gelding likes that day. A lot depends on how the horse feels underneath me. Some days my horse needs to canter before doing really any trot work. Sometimes my warm-up is my entire ride .
                        I love my Econo-Nag!


                        • #13
                          I do a specific warm-up with my TB when I actually ride in a ring because it helps him to go his personal best.

                          I walk him around both ways on the buckle for a few laps, then let him jog on the buckle for a couple laps both ways to just get moving. Then I'll pick up contact and just have him trot forward more and bend off my leg in the corners and do like big half-ring circles, change of directions, and all that good stuff. Again, to slowly start him moving forward and focusing. He is built downhill and it's difficult for him to have a nice canter right away, so after the trotting is done, I have him canter on the buckle a few laps both ways, only taking some contact around the corners to balance him up. I let him really stretch out, more like a hand gallop, to get out the kinks and loosen him up. Then I'll slowly start to take contact again, and usually if I say "whoa" once while we're cantering like that, he'll bring his pace down a notch and give me a nicer canter. Then we do canter-trot, trot-canter, walk-canter, canter-walk, and halt-canter, canter-halt transitions until he's really balanced and in my hand.

                          Then we ride


                          • #14
                            My general warm-up lasts about 15 minutes, and starts with about 2-3 laps around on the buckle in each direction. Just getting horsey to relax, stretch down, see all there is to see before getting to work. Ideally we'll walk over some ground poles or raised cavalletti, cross through the center, intersperse some halts off the seat before starting to pick up the pace. I then take up contact & close my leg a bit more. We do some flexes of the neck, bending & counterbending, followed by some leg yields and circles until the horse feels ready.

                            I then move into the trot on a loose contact, although I've also had a few that tend to do better with a light canter first. But letting the blood really get flowing. At the trot, some more circles, changes of direction, and a bit of long & low, followed by a few transitions back & forth to walk/trot. Near the end of this initial trot phase we'll do some more leg yields before moving on into the canter. I generally let them go around once or twice before coming back to the trot, taking more of a working contact, back to canter, some circles, changes of direction both with swaps and simple changes, then back to walk. They get a few minutes to catch their breath before we hone in a bit more on the transitions mixed with direction changes & turn on forehand/haunches: walk-forward expressive trot, trot-halt, walk-canter, canter-walk, halt-back-canter.

                            Once the balance is up and they're fully and intently listening, it's on to the true work!


                            • #15
                              I have a sort of odd warm-up, partially because my horse comes in form the pasture to be ridden and doesn't need the long bits of walking at the beginning. But I usually pick him right up (he doesn't like stretching down at the beginning) and do a quick trot in each direction before picking up the canter. I don't ask a whole lot right then but don't just let him bop around with his nose sticking out. On a jump day I'll then come back to the trot, drop my stirrups and do some leg yielding work and some figure-8's (think 10m circles each way) to get him moving off my leg fully. Then I do a bit more canter with more focus on circles and then I go on to jumping.

                              For the flat I modify it a bit and ask for a bit of a longer looser trot before fully picking him up and asking him to work. I'll usually work the canter more before working the trot when I am doing a flat day.
                              "I'm too sexy for my blanket, too sexy for my blanket, these mares-they should take it..." (J-Lu) - Featuring The Skypizzle Pony aka Classic Skyline


                              • #16
                                10 min at a marching walk
                                every horse, every time, before one step of trot
                                10 min walk cool down every time

                                Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                                • #17
                                  horsey lives in pasture.
                                  bring to arena- turn lose, let her roll, trot, canter, gallop, rear, buck, frolic what have you. Horsey LOVES this!!!
                                  Arena work
                                  Ride about 10 minutes at walk, circles, lateral work, flexing, backing turns on haunches, forehand, back, side pass etc.
                                  about 10 minutes at the trot, circles, serpentines, lateral work, transitions to walk. trot over poles
                                  about 10-15 minutes of trot/walk/canter. circles, serpentines, transitions between all three gaits. Simple changes. She can do flying changes but I usually don't school them. Sometimes over a few low fences gymnastics.
                                  then we may go for a hack around the property or just let her roll in the sand. She's a happy girl!

                                  Mostly we go on trail rides. Dedicated arena work maybe 2 sometimes 3x per week.


                                  • #18
                                    At the rate I am going lately, my warm up is similar to this...

                                    Let 3 year olds run around in arena to get bucks out, tack up, lunge to get more bucks out, hop on, pray the bucks are all out, walk a few laps with halts and circles, praying my legs dont get run into fences or jumps, start some trot work, praying there will be no bucks and that my brakes are working okay that day. trot some more, trying to keep baby's brain focused so he doesnt wig out when cat decides to dart across arena, ask for canter, while praying we dont remember our race track days, start to settle into our work at the canter, then quickly realize I should not be taking this nice supple, elastic, relaxed canter for granted as we take off bucking and squealing...

                                    ohhhh the joys of breaking 3 year olds!
                                    "If you are nervous you arent focused-if you are focused, there is no room for nerves!"


                                    • #19
                                      I don't have a routine... I change the way I ride depending on how the horse feels.