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The Chaos Of The Warm Up Arena

The Chaos Of The Warm Up Arena


The warm up ring can be a bit of a smorgasbord when it comes to getting ready for our class. Often with a dozen or so horses (even more sometimes, especially in the pony ring where riders are a bit eager to get going), multiple people positioned by the fences to put jumps up and down and horses going in both directions, it can be a nerve wracking and stressful situation.


Below are my top 10 tips for getting the best warm up.

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By Amanda Wilson | Monday, 30 April 2018

Top tips for the best warm-up:


  1. My general rule of thumb is to tack up twenty horses before I am due in the ring. It takes on average, ten horses (which is about twenty minutes at two minutes per horse in the ring) to get my horse ready. I am already dressed at this stage. By the time I hop on I usually have ten horses left for me to warm up in. Be aware that riders will sometimes scratch (and I am well practised at getting my horses ready pretty quickly) so allow yourself an extra 10-20 minutes to tack up and allow for a change in the class list.

  2. I begin warming my horse up ten horses before I am due to go in the ring. For five minutes I walk, trot and canter each direction, working on getting my horses collected and soft before bringing them back to a walk and watching one or two riders jump the track. At about six horses to go, I jump my first cross, before coming straight back around to a small upright and a small oxer. Then back to a walk to let my horse catch its breath before progressing on to two bigger uprights and two bigger oxers (the last upright and oxer to be a similar height to the track I am jumping in the ring). The warm-up should literally just be used to warm our horses up and get them confident before going into the ring. This is not the place to be trying new things and you should be saving your horse’s jump for the ring. Don’t wear your horse out by warming up too early or jumping too many fences. I often see kids on their ponies for up to an hour before they are due in the ring and they often jump and jump and jump until the ponies are obviously fatigued and well over it. While it can be tempting to get going early, consider your horse's long-term physical and mental state. I highly recommend watching a Ring One warm up at the higher heights to learn how top riders warm up; from their flatwork through to entering the ring. If you have a problem at the practise fence, drop the height down to get your confidence back and then build back up. 

  3. Always call for your warm-up jump! Let those around you know which jump you are going to and make sure that there is no one in the way of the fence as you approach. NEVER jump a jump that has someone in front or behind it putting jumps up or down. If this happens as you approach, circle and call louder for them to get out of the way the next time. Make sure you stay polite and respectful of those around you. It is easy to get frustrated in the warm-up arena especially when riders and trainers hog a warm-up jump.

  4. Know that it is illegal to jump more than 10cm higher in the warm-up arena than what is the height of the course you are competing in. For example, if you are competing at 1.10m you can only jump up to 1.20m height in the warm-up arena. If you are jumping 1.30m height, for example, you can only jump to 1.40m high in the warm-up arena. Once you are competing in classes over 1.40m level you are able to put the practice fences up to 1.60m high (and 1.80m wide) but they are not allowed to exceed this height or this width.

  5. When riding past another rider coming the opposite way, keep the rule to ride LEFT to LEFT (left knee to left knee). This helps you to avoid running into each other. Basically, if you are on the left rein you ride on the outside of the rider coming towards you and if you are on the right rein you ride on the inside of the incoming rider.

  6. If your horse struggles in crowded areas consider putting a red ribbon in their tail (whether they kick or not) to keep others from riding up too close behind you.

  7. If you are unsure of how far away you are, ask the gate steward or have someone helping you to keep an eye on the class list.

  8. It is a good idea to find out which rider rides two horses in front of you in advance, so you know when you need to be heading to the gate.

  9. If you are 1-3 horses away from being due in the ring, you have a priority over practice fences. If someone is being difficult at the practice fence, politely but firmly let them know you need the fence and they can have it back shortly. Don’t hog fences yourself.

  10.  I head to the gate as the horse and rider before me on the catalogue enters the ring and halt and watch them navigate the first half of the track before entering the ring myself. While the rider and horse finish their course, I show my horse any fences or any part of the ring they may find spooky, taking great care to keep well out of the way of the rider still jumping. This can be tricky to time correctly, so if you are at all worried about this just wait until the horse and rider have finished the course before moving into the ring.



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