Your warm-up just might
be the most important
part of your ride.
BY JEC A. BALLOU / PHOTOS BY LESLEY WARD
IT MIGHT SEEM like the least
exciting part of the ride, but a warm-up determines how much your
horse will benefit from the work that
follows. Without a correct warm-up,
even a well-executed conditioning
or training session will fail to deliver
the desired results. What, then,
determines a good warm-up?
The first rule of warming up is to emphasize
circulation and joint mobility, and only then
progress to a livelier phase of riding.
When you mount up or begin longeing, you
should spend three to five minutes allowing
the horse to walk around in a relaxed posture
without any restrictive rein contact. Some
riders choose to do this loosening up phase
unmounted, while others like to casually hack
around outside the arena.
Joints must be allowed to move through
their full range of motion prior to being held
in a rounded frame. Consider that in a resting
state, only 15 percent of circulating blood is
available to your horse’s muscles, with the
larger percentage traveling instead to his
organs and digestive system.
During exercise, however, up to 85 percent
of his blood is required by the muscles. One
of the goals of loosening up is to allow this
circulation to occur to support the vigorous
activity to follow.