While attending a local hunter jumper show I had some spare time in between classes where I was wandering around enjoying the horse training scenery. While amiably ambling around I sat to take in the professional riders/trainers warming up for their class. You could pick out the people who did the horse show circuit for a living because they had a schedule and program worked out. By narrowing it down to three things, you could also make your warm up more efficient and effective.
This does not just mean knowing your course, and when to get into the ring but being actually prepared
photo credit: carterse for the competition. Knowing and understanding the level of commitment and the rules for the classes.
You can tell the professionals from the amateurs or the wannabes! The pros have their schedule, their program and their exercises worked out and they know what is being required of their horses, students and staff.
Be on Purpose
There is little time for chit-chat and grooms are certainly on purpose during the show day regime. This can definitely be seen when riders enter the warm up ring. They know exactly how many jumps to do, which jumps, and exactly when they should be finished so they can get into the ring with a warmed up horse – without leaving the best jumps in the warmup ring.
We have seen riders doing too many warm up fences only to have the horse be stale and flat when we want them to be expressive and scopey.
Have a Plan
Having a plan for your warmup is not something that just happens while warming up at the horse show. The plan is a a systematic format that the horse is familiar with. This plan is developed with the horse an dmind and may even be altered while at the show. It could be that as a result of bing prepared, riders realize that if the horse is a little ‘on the muscle’, they need to do more in the warm up.
How do you prepare your horse while at the show grounds? Is it different from show to show? If you find something isn’t working…. when do you change it?