How you warm-up your horse at an event can make or break your performance in the ring, but how exactly do you get the competitive edge?

An effective warm-up ensures that you are communicating well with your horse and he is ready to take on the task ahead. Warming-up properly will reduce risk of injury and allow you horse to stretch his muscles and get to a working temperature. During your warm-up you should check that your horse is sound, correctly tacked up, you have the basics in check and he is listening well to you.

It is a good idea to view the warm-up as a confidence building exercise. Do not try to push yourself or your horse – it’s not about showing off, or jumping new heights. Plan your warm-up in advance, but remain flexible so that you can adapt to suit your horse on the day.

Top tips:

  • Keep your warm-up simple
  • Give yourself plenty of time – don’t rush
  • Plan what you’re going to do in advance
  • Remain calm and positive
  • Evaluate how your horse is performing so that you can adapt your plan if necessary
  • Allow your horse enough time to settle
  • If your horse is often stiff when you first take him off the lorry, walk him for a bit longer before you start working him properly
  • If you have a young horse get on a bit earlier and show your horse around so that he can take in the sights and sounds at the event
  • If you have a sharp horse leave yourself more time to work him in
  • If your horse lacks confidence think about starting small and gradually building up the practice fences
  • If your horse is a confident jumper he may not need as many practice fences – avoid doing too much

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