How to have a Winning Dressage Warm-up by Heather Bender, Part II

Posted by By at 10 February, at 18 : 27 PM Print

Getting to the warm-up with all you will need

© Heather Bender

We spend so much time, effort, thought, and money to show. Your experience, joy and success will greatly improve with help from a groom.  Preferable someone you pay so that they take the job seriously and they are truly there to help you.  If that is not possible then second best, a knowledgeable committed friend to assist you at the ring.  It is a very tough for those who have no one there to help them with all the little and big things that come up.

How you organize your stuff and having a plan for what you will need before you start to the arena is very important.  First of all, do not forget your number; you can be disqualified for riding without it. The rule is that you must have a number on your horse any time he is out of his stall so keep one number on his halter and one on his bridle.  Some shows are very strict about around the stable, some are not, but it is the rule dec 19, 2014 – buy baclofen online, als baclofen pump , cpt codes for baclofen pump . so better to follow it and stay out of trouble.

Next I would highly recommend a grooming tote.  I would suggest you include in your grooming tote: dry towel and several small damp towels, one for the really dirty work and a cleaner one, a drink for you, test copy with ring diagram, brush, boot shining sponge (works great on boots bridles and nose bands touch- ups), tail brush, saddle wax for slipping, braiding rubber bands (can be like duct tape to solve many different problems), hoof pick, safety pins, treats. Remember to keep treats simple like sugar or green apple cut up, never bring anything that may have red, like some horse cookies or peppermints because it could be mistaken for blood.  I will keep my tote all set up for this and just add the things that cannot stay in it between shows.

You will need to think about if you are going to warm-up in your coat or put it on later.  Who is bringing it to the ring?  If you fold it with the lining out you may not have to bring coat bag to keep it clean. If you are planning to use wraps or boots on your horse during the warm-up make sure you use wraps or boots that stand out that will not be forget to be taken off before the class.  I would suggest white boots for black legs as an example or black boots for white legs.  Also, assign someone to be responsible for removing them before you go in.  Probably not a good idea to count on your trainer for this job, their concentration will be on your ride, not your horses’ boots.  Ask my students, I fail the remember the boots rule.  This is why grooms are so important and so helpful!  Horse’s boots are easy to forget when things get hectic.

Before you even have head to the ring you will want to have checked the official show time with your watch and your grooms watch.  You will want to have checked that no schedule changes have been made.  Shows are allowed to change times if they do it 24 hours ahead of your time and post it.  My experience is show management will try not to change a schedule and will try hard to reach you.  They are required to reach you if the change is within 24 hours. If weather creates a delay or you missed the message in the end it will be you that will be frustrated so make it your responsibility to check.  Weather can cause problems so be aware.  Mobil phones have helped with management reaching riders so remember to put on the number where you will be most easily reached on your entries.  Then don’t forget to check your phone.

Another important trick to staying on time and keeping your helpers organized is to post in a clear, easy to see area in your stable or at your trailer. First write down the time you are supposed to be putting your foot in the stirrup, then next to it, put down your show time. On that same paper I follow my time with a column for which ring I am showing in, than which test. I also have which horse, since I often ride multiple horses.  If everyone is focused on the mounting time, not the show time it helps you to stay on you plan and not get late. You will determine that time with your backwards look from the time you are showing.  Remember to consider if you have a long walk to the practice ring in your time calculation.

I am a very strong believer that you must take a walk to the arena you will be showing in before you get on; make a run through visualizing riding your test.  Sometimes I will take a friend with me and tell them the test and even discuss problem areas and what I will need to be thinking at that moment in the test.  I like to go with my students and talk them through what will be the most important thing in each moment to remember, even if it is a common theme throughout the test. This is also a great opportunity to notice any possible distraction areas for my horse or me.  By visualizing the test I will ride next it buy fluoxetine online, prozac 10 mg pulvule, prozac 8 weeks. mg side effects fluoxetine 80 mg side effects buy prozac online usa prazine vs prozac uses. hcl 20 mg side effects 20 mg price prozac without side effects prazine vs prozac helps me to feel confident and not go off course.  I often will be riding many tests a day, from training level to Grand Prix.  I find it extremely helpful to only focus on the next test I will ride.  If I need to look at several at one time, I will always make sure I go over the next test I will ride last, so it is clear in my mind.

While I am looking at the ring and going over my test it is a great opportunity to get a feel for the surroundings.  Take this opportunity to plan how your will enter the ring and what direction you will go. Look for things you may want to show your horse, judge’s boxes, new flowers, flags, banners, etc.  You will not have much time so decide how to use it wisely. I want to get the most of my 45 seconds, once the whistle or bell is rung.  This is a good place for me to remind you that you can enter the outside of the arena as soon as the person before you has done their final salute.  Do remember you cannot enter the outside of the arena if the judges and secretaries are not in their places.  As long as everyone is in their box, it is usually acceptable to enter the outside of the ring a few minutes before your time.  But when you start around the ring the judge can ring the bell when they choose. Often judges will appreciate you being prompt and will possible give you a moment before they ring the bell or whistle.

Now let’s discuss our actual riding plan. How I anticipate possible problems and plan solutions, how effectively I organize my riding time, how well I tune into what exercises my horse and I need to work on to get ready to ride the best test possible in the show ring. These are the key factors to being and feeling successful and less stressed.

How to decide how much time you need

How experienced is your horse? Do you expect him to be hot and nervous, possibly tight, or a bit lazy and distracted the day of the show? If I know my horse isn’t a seasoned competitor or can be edgy and nervous, I like to arrive the day before the competition. I have found that the opportunity to ride around the grounds and in the show ring the day before the show is a very valuable tool for both horse and rider.  I do not expect that the day before will be a good day to try to train my horse but, instead, I reinforce our basics and allow him to gain some confidence about his new surroundings. I know that, in most cases, he won’t be at his best. He may find it difficult to concentrate. My experience has taught me that if I am patient and consistent, it will pay off.

I will focus my efforts in getting him listening to my legs and seat. I want to develop a good ‘gas pedal’ and a clear half halt. I will work on these goals by use of many bending exercises and transitions. My overall goals don’t change if I’m riding Training Level horse or a Grand Prix horse.  Sometimes I will find the use of a running martingale, correctly adjusted in the warm-up can be very helpful with horses that like to get excited raising their heads and focusing out of the ring gazing to the distance.  You can legally use this at a USEF regulated show but it will have to be removed before you go to the show ring.  Of course, my expectations for each horse would be different but thoroughness is key. If I do find it possible to run through my test, I will be forgiving regarding brilliance and rather, strive for a relaxed, supple frame. I’ll plan to add the extra ‘pizazz’ on the show day. I don’t want to have the ride of my life in the practice ring. Save it for the show ring!

Riding the day before will give you a lot of insight on what to expect on the show day and indicate how much time to plan for your warm-up. When you are riding, make a mental note on how much time it took you both to feel comfortable. You can use this valuable ceftin cephalosporin buy ceftin online experience in deciding how much time and what exercises are going to really help you before your class.

If you decide that your horse would benefit from a controlled lunge on the show day, remember to ask the show management where there is a safe place you can lunge during show. Make sure you know which warm-up is for your class and where cheapest prices pharmacy. buy dapoxetine online. instant shipping, dapoxetine price in singapore. your ring Stewart will be so you can check- in when you enter the warm-up. Have there been changes in the schedule?  Also try to get a feel for how crowded the warm-up ring is going to be. If it tends to be very crowded, will there be somewhere else you can begin your warm-up? Other questions are: are they planning to drag and water the warm-up ring near your time? How long will that take?  With that information, you can allow for time to plan your warm-up accordingly.

If you don’t have the luxury of riding the day before the show, then you will have to estimate the time you need based on your past experiences.  Remember that, in most cases, you are better off with too much time than not enough. If you realize that you have more time than you need, take more walk breaks. Get off your horse, and if it is hot, find a nice shady spot to hang out.  Use this waiting time to go back over your test, remembering what you are going to do in each movement. Avoid the trap of having a great warm-up, then taking a break and standing around while you mentally run through your test, get cleaned up and then riding straight into the show ring. Most horses won’t be as sharp as they were before you took the break.  I’ll always stop to cleanup and review my test, then go back into the warm-up area, get a good rhythm and balance, the go into the show ring.

Make Your Time in the Warm-up Ring Count

Remember, when you’re choosing exercises for your warm-up, that you want to stay focused on what will be required in the test you are riding next!  Tailor your work to be exactly what you and your horse need on this day.  Think about your hard pieces and how you could ride a few exercises that were not exactly the test move to build your horses confidence and to prepare him for the movement in the test.  For example, if you have to trot change at X from the left lead to the right lead and your horse has a tendency to rush on the diagonal, add in your warm-up a figure eight on diagonal at X 10’ to 12’ meter circles at X . Ride the circles at the trot, adding walk transitions through your change of direction.  When your horse feels calm and better balanced, pickup your canter on your right circle and continue through your diagonal.  You may not even get to the actual trot change in the warm up but instead school the waiting change so when you enter the ring he is expecting to wait at ‘X’ instead of thinking he gains bigger points for being the fastest dressage horse on the diagonal. In other words, be a little flexible with your plan.  Think of helpful gymnastics like the diagonal exercise I just suggested. Your goal is you work promotes the right effect to your aids on that day.


We all see the poor rider who thinks they have it all figured out before they get to the warm-up, only to find out the other member of the team did not get the same plan.  I’ll give you an example. You arrive at the ring and your normally obedient horse that likes to go around on the bit at a fairly steady tempo is traveling around with his head straight up, calling back to his friends at the barn as if he just came out of a Wild West movie.  You may need to reconsider the original plan.  For more plans on how to save the moment please look for my blog on:  How to regain your horse’s attention.

You can see it’s important to be flexible with your ideas. Successful riders are not so surprised by things not going exactly as planned and they are able to make deviations without getting rattled by the changes.  But it’s a wise idea to have a plan, even if the plan has to be changed a bit.  Usually you can get back to it after a few distractions.

Keep in mind that your attitude will be a key factor in motivating your horse to work with you …or against you.

Stay Patient, take breaks if you are getting tense, and make your corrections clear and fair.  Another common mistake in the ‘warm-up’: when things aren’t going as planned be accountable to how you might be using your aids.  Ask yourself how can I use my seat more effectively?   Try to enjoy yourself and your riding.  Remember to reward your horse often.  It’s important to keep in mind that your attitude will be a key factor in motivating your horse to work with you or against you.

Years of experience has taught me the wining warm-up is a well thought out combination of factors

You will need a well thought out and executed plan to include:

Preparation: Choosing the right combination of feed, lunging, pre-ride hand walking to equate your horse with his new environment. Your ability to choose your needed time wisely.  You must know your test and plan your show ride before you enter the warm-up. It is important to remember what equipment you will need taking into consideration weather, and your horses personality.

Groom and trainers assistants:  Knowing how much assistance will be available and being realistic on what they will be able to do to help you.  Planning according to that will help you make decisions on how much responsibility you will have on your shoulders to pick exercises and deal with time management.

The ability not to panic when things do not go as planned: No matter how hard you try; often something will change your plan.  To be successful you must ride the horse that shows up to that warm-up and be flexible in your strategy to adjust you plan to fit that moment. Stay cool and calm, something I often have to remind my students is to ‘breath.’  Of course that sounds ridicules but it is true.  You need to breath to the bottom of your lungs which in return will help you to stay in the moment and remain calm. Frustration will only harm you and your horse’s performance, not to mention his overall experience of the event.

Adjust your exercises to fit the horse that arrives at the warm-up that moment

Pack your since of humor and determination, you may need them both!

When you complete your show day, go back over how things went, while it’s fresh in your mind.  Look for how you can make it better next time.  Keep a notebook; write down what worked and what did not. I know that will help you to be successful.  If you use your experience wisely the warm-up will become easier and a lot less stressful!  Remember the most important thing for you and your horse is to have fun and make the whole experience a learning day that you will build advair diskus generic equivalent advair diskus retail price buy fluticasone online upon!



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