RIDE SADDLE UP
Walking over raised poles creates
mobility in the spinal joints and
loosens restriction in the lower
back. It also recruits abdominal
muscles while stimulating good, full
flexion in the horse’s hind leg joints.
»Walk Figures with Turns on
Turns on the forehand help
alleviate crookedness and lead to
freer movement in the hind limbs.
Additionally, they work well to
tune up a horse’s responsiveness
to his task. In your loosening-up phase, aim to walk through
a pattern that connects various
turns on the forehand.
A simple exercise is to ride
around a large square, making
turns on the forehand at each
corner. You can also ride any
number of zigzag lines or changes
of direction, adding a turn on the
forehand every several strides.
» Walk on Di;erent Surfaces
Riding over a variety of
surfaces requires the horse to
make frequent adjustments to
stride, balance and muscle usage.
Deeper surfaces strengthen soft
tissues like muscles and tendons,
while firmer surfaces strengthen
cartilage and bone. A well-rounded
horse needs attention to all these
structures, which a variety of
surfaces can accomplish.
Spend some of your loosening-up time walking around a surface
other than your normal workout
area. Find some hard ground or
maybe a soft field or grassy hillside
and ride loops and serpentines.
When you have completed your
loosening-up phase and are
ready to begin the more active,
temperature-raising phase of your
warm-up, the following exercises
work well for most horses.
»Trot to Canter Transitions
Stepping from trot into canter
delivers a loosening a;ect to the
horse’s lower back. During your
warm-up phase, do not expect
perfection from these transitions.
They may not be perfectly smooth
or balanced, and that’s OK.
Your focus here is on gymnastic
work. You are aiming to stimulate
his lower back and activate his
hind legs rather than to execute
the kind of transitions you might
hope to at a horse show. Ride
several trot-canter-trot transitions
in each direction on various
figures—circles, straight lines,
changes of direction.
If your horse tends to be lazy,
ride the transitions close together.
Ride just a few steps of each gait
While walking patterns and
figures, use a turn on the
forehand to change direction.