THE WARM UP

Any athlete will tell you that any muscle that isn't sufficiently warmed up is a fragile one and the same applies to our equines. With time in the saddle a premium for some, particularly when daylight hours diminish in the winter months, several people unfortunately dismiss this vital session and often at their peril. Riders who ask too much of horses before the horse is correctly warmed up, injuries are likely. 

The preparation of a horse before you ride can begin to warm up the muscles such as grooming, heat lamps, magnetic rugs or massage therapy pads. When beginning the warm up, relaxation should be the main focus of the rider, encouraging the horses to stretch and work nice and simply to begin with. Riders should start with a light contact and with frequent changes of rein so the horse is working evenly on both sides. The walk and then the trot steps should maintain an even, relaxed rhythm with the warm up then slowly incorporating small circles as the rider asks for more flexion and bend.

Varying the movements and increasing the transitions will keep the horse attentive and supple. The rider then can introduce some loose, relaxed lateral work encouraging the horse to work over his back and to ensure that he is listening to you. The horse needs to react from the leg immediately