Creating A Warm Up For You And Your Horse
Welcome back to day #10 of the being a better rider challenge! Since we are spending more time riding our horses now, I thought an important part of our riding session should focus on our warm up. So today we are going to be working on creating a warm up for you and your horse.
The warm up before the ride can set the tone for your entire ride whether that is good or bad. So the idea of getting off on the right foot of your ride is important. And an effective warm up can really help you to do that.
What Is A Warm Up?
You may be wondering what exactly is a warm up? Is it walking your horse out to the arena? Is it when you get up and walk around for five minutes before you really start “riding”? Or is it walk halt. Walk, trot, halt. Walk, trot, canter, halt?
The truth is, a warm up is whatever you want it to be. But the main objective is to actually have a warm up. You don’t want to just jump on your horse and start running around the arena. And when you are training for speed events or jumping, you don’t just jump on your horse and go into the activity. Before you can do any intensive working, you and your horse must be warmed up if you have the hopes of having a successful working session.
Customizing Your Warm Up
The amount of time for a warm up will depend on your horse’s individual needs. As an example, my horses. Frisby takes a long time to warm up. I don’t have to lunge him, but I really have to work hard to get him moving forward, and paying attention to me. I can climb up on him, and then work hard to get him motivated into moving. He is warmed up after about 30 minutes of me solidly pushing him to go. This is itself can be exhausting. By the time he is warmed up, I am pooped!
Ethan on the other hand, is flighty, spooky, and full of energy. For his warm up, I try to calm him down. What works best for him is lunging, and lots of changes of direction. We also do other ground work like getting him to turn on his forehand, or move his hindquarters, and anything else I can think of to engage the thinking side of his brain, and not the reactive side of his brain. Unfortunately, Frisby has spoiled me. Yes I have to get up and push him to get him motivated to go, but I can get up on him.
Every Horse Is Different
With Ethan, he is so different. And I have gotten so used to Frisby, sometimes I forget, and just climb up on Ethan. This can either be successful or more often, leave me in complete frustration and questioning why on earth I bought another horse.
The point I am trying to make is that every horse is different. They will warm up differently, and work differently. It is up to use as their riders to determine what works best for our horse. And that is what your project is for today.
I want you to think about the last time you rode your horse. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Did you warm him up?
- How long did it take you to get you and your horse into the work zone?
- Did you really even get there?
- How was your ride?
Now with the answers to those questions, I want you to formulate a plan of what you will do before your next ride to spend some time dedicated to warming up your horse. If you horse is lazy, maybe plan on spending some extra time really getting him to move forward with a purpose. Or if your horse is a little more spirited, maybe you will want to lunge him for 10 to 15 minutes before you get on him.
Whatever the case, plan for how you will be warming up your horse today before you ride. If it makes it easier for you, write it on a piece of paper, and hang it up in your barn so you can see it. Sometimes visualizing the words can help to motivate you to complete your goal.
Do Whatever it Takes to Make it Happen
And then after your ride, reassess how it went. Did you have a good ride? Was this ride better, worse or about the same from your last? Did you do anything different that made you have an “a-ha” moment?
Really take a few minutes after your ride and think about how it went. This can help you to plan for your next ride, or even your next ground working session. Because any time that you spend with your horse is time well spent, in my opinion. And you have your horse for a reason, it brings you joy right?
Find what it is that you do with your horse that gives you joy, and focus on that. Hopefully if you have lost that joy, you will be able to find it again!
Don’t forget to do your plank exercise today and write down your time on your calendar. And then draw that big red x over day #9! And then get ready for day #10, which is going to be a fun day, I promise!