AskHQ: Warm-up

Q: What are the key checkpoints to look out for during the warm-up?

A: The key things to establish during your warm-up are as follows:

Contact

During the warm-up the contact should gradually be taken up by the rider and accepted by the horse. When taking up the contact, you should always strive for a smooth connection so that your horse is willing to follow your hand. During the warm-up it is also important to vary the neck position of your horse in the walk, trot and canter, using your contact. Try to ask your horse to stretch his neck right down to the ground, as well as lift his head up to knee height. However, it goes without saying that overbending the horse is an absolute no,no.

In front of your leg

The warm up needs to ensure that your horse is attentive and in front of your leg. To achieve this you can ride many transitions both with and between gaits, making sure that you change rein regularly.

Seat and position

You must always check your seat and position before beginning a training session, so work on any issues during your warm-up. Know your weaknesses and try to work on just one of them during the warm-up phase. For instance, roll your shoulders every time you pass a certain point in the arena if you know that your shoulders tend to be stiff.

Turns

Vary the type of turns during your warm-up to ensure that your horse is bending willingly and correctly. Start with bigger turns on a larger circle, and then gradually introduce sharper turns. Straighten your horse when riding on a straight line, and bend him when riding a turn. Ensure that by the end of the warm-up your horse is willing to wrap around and respond to your inside leg.