Warming up the horse...
How do you warm-up the horse? I do quite a bit of trot, transitions, and figures, but it still takes forever for my paint to warm-up, loosen and come more on bit (my qh takes much less time/effort). I DO understand it's horse-by-horse, but I was wondering if there are any exercises I could add into the routine.
like you said every horse is different, though i find the better conditioned the horse is, the less time it takes for wam up/cool down. i also find carrot stretches to be incredibly effective.
Thanks, CJ! By carrot stretches you mean those from ground before you ride? Or something else?
I like to do walk for ten minutes on a *long rein, not loose, just so the horse is stretching into the contact at an engaging walk, then five mintues of that trot, then maybe a few circles of that canter while keeping all the gaits balanced and engaged through the hindquaters. I find it works,included with all the warm up transitions and stuff you're doing
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Carrot Stretches are a good idea :) Here's a vid that will help you :
When on the horse, do a TON of circles and bending, Figure 8's and Serpentines.
When I get on Nelson, I do at least 15 - 20 minutes of walk work. The walk has to be a working walk though, where he's opened up front, moving under himself and stretching. Then I merge into Lateral Work, riding inside leg into outside rein.
When the neck muscles are lax, and his jaw isn't tight anymore, I move into the trot.
what MIE said ;)
Thank you, folks! Will try carrot stretches and more "working" walk. :)
I ride bitless but eve when I rode with a bit I always began with 20 minutes walking without caring about the reins, just letting him relax: during winter he often came out of his stall... so I often walked him on foot first, then rode at a calm walk and let him look at everything in the arena, then gently began to ask for some circles and transitions (walk-stop-backwards-walk) still without taking contact with the mouth, waiting for him to suggest we might start working more seriously. Then I do the same exercises (circles and so on) and once I get a relaxed and energetic walk, we trot and try to get the same things, with transitions, maybe 10-15 minutes, then gallop - usually I expect fewer things there and we only have a few circles on each hand - and then I think he's ready to work on the point I wanted to deepen or on something I noticed was strange during the warm-up. I also always try to act first with my seat, back, legs, and the hands come really last thing, and smoothly. We keep a soft contact but as I'm not confident at all in my hands, they are not the privileged aids I use lol.
But I usually ride alone and have no trainer so maybe it isn't "real work"...
Counter flexion, in all three gaits.
When I warm up Ace he doesn't get really warmed up and moving until he canters with some counter flexion. Doesn't matter how much trot I do, if he hasn't cantered he won't be fully loose and engaged. Willie is the same. I find doing a figure eight with counter flexion on both circles really helps. Keep in mind I say flexion, not bend. You don't want to be hauling their head around, obviously. The counter flexion really helps Ace loosen up through his back, which is the most important thing for him since he is pretty cold backed anyway.
Don't have low expectations for your horse during the warm up. I ask all horses I ride to be stretching into the contact and be fully engaged all through out my ride until they are cooling down or unless they're getting a brief break. That includes right when I start warming up. I establish roundness up to the outside rein from the inside leg, and then when they soften and accept it they get to stretch down and round a little bit lower, and then a little bit lower, etc. etc. but there is never no contact or communication from my hands. To establish a good stretch and working through the back you have to give the horse something to stretch to, not just chuck the reins at them. Getting that consistent stretch and engagement from back to front will help your horse warm up.
This is what I do...
I did this before I ever saw the video and nice to know that others warm up like I do.
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