I absolutely hate warm up rings for this reason. If at all possible try warming up your horse at home before you go to the show (don't make him sweat though, of course) if you get to the ring and it looks like it will be a mess, just walk your horse to keep him calm yet supple, and like you said, sometimes you just have to use your first ride as your warm up. If your horse is well trained and knows what to do they should be okay with that. Good luck!
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin