How to Have a Winning Dressage Warm-up!

Posted by By at 3 February, at 13 : 50 PM Print

Part 1 of 2

By Heather Bender

© Heather Bender

Many dressage tests are lost in the warm-up ring. Often with the right preparation and planning you can avoid many of the “warm-up traps” that can unravel you and your horse.  It’s frustrating to ride a test which does not reflect you and your horse’s talents and abilities. The goal of this article is to give you some solid tips that will enable you and your horse to successful and demonstrate your best possible performance during your test.  When a rider and horse accomplish performing at their best, the endless hours of   training and preparation feel worthwhile and rewarding!

What Are Our Goals For The Warm-Up?

Okay, first let us talk about the obvious. We would like to have our horses over their back, round to the contact, in front of our legs, light to our aids, right?  While we’re at it, let’s add supple, happy, demonstrating wonderful engagement with great carry power along with perfect impulsion and pushing power not to mention perfect rhythm. And, of course, we are sitting gracefully in the saddle with an independent seat using our invisible aids and perfect equitation! Did I forget anything? (Maybe to buy a lotto ticket order online at usa pharmacy! buy zoloft canada . approved pharmacy, cost of zoloft medication. that day if we got all that together) Okay, back to reality. Even for the seasoned professional, it takes a lot of thought, organization, planning, and the ability to read the situation. Probably one of the most important traits of a successful competitor is to have the flexibility in their plan to deal with the unexpected. I hope to share some hard-earned experience to help you be better prepared and more flexible with your plan. Preparation is key to minimizing the stress that can cause you and your horse to feel nervous, rushed or disorganized.

Try to anticipate the obvious, make your plan with the knowledge and experience you have knowing yourself and your horse.  This is a good starting point to make an educated guess on what will work.  After the show you will be able to add new ideas and make changes for the next shows with the experience gained. My goal here is to help you avoid many negative experiences that will trap you into a poor warm-up and a worse test.

My goal here is to help you avoid many negative experiences that will trap you into a poor warm-up and a worse test.

At home, try to create some of the same stress you will encounter at the show.  This will give you more information for your successful warm-up plan.  At your home arena, you could change up the surroundings by adding colorful blankets that look like banners, new flower arrangements, maybe a radio that sounds like the announcer by the ring. Try to recreate a similar judge’s box at C with a table and people sitting at it.  If you have not taken your horse off your property for a while, try going to a new location without a show. This could be an opportunity to have a chance to ride out of your home comfort zone. It is helpful to know how sensitive your horse is to these changes.   Remember if you have not already worn all your show cloths be sure to try them before you go.  Do not wait to the show day to find out your breeches are slippery or your boots are not broken in properly; even try riding with your show gloves. All these little details can really make a difference. Clothes that don’t fit properly can be a disaster.  Any of us who grew up showing have at least one funny disastrous story to tell on making that mistake!

For more tips on proper clothing, boots, helmets etc.,  look for my blog dressing for the show ring tips.

What do I need to consider in making my warm-up plan?

When I prepare for a show, first I must make some very important decisions about time management. One of my most important decisions will be how long I will allow for my warm-up.  The factors that I will cheapest prices pharmacy. dapoxetine cost australia . next day delivery, buy dapoxetine in usa. consider to make this plan are:

  1. What time of the day is my test scheduled?
  2. When will I fit in grooming, braiding?
  3. How does that time of day affect my horse’s attitude?
    1. Is it during a feeding time?
    2. What is the weather going to be like?
    3. How crowded or stressful will the show grounds and warm-up be at that time?
    4. How many tests am I riding, how many days?
    5. Should I lunge before my warm-up or maybe earlier so my horse can relax and I don’t become rushed?
    6. What do I anticipate my horses tension level to be or will he be a bit too lazy?
    7. How much help will I have, and how competent is my help?

Time of day; yes, this can be a big deal. My experiences -the greener the horse, often the bigger the deal it can be.  We all have times we would probably prefer to ride.  Our goal is do our best with the time we have been scheduled. I must say it is a wonderful thing to have a time you really are going to show.  If you started in other disciplines than dressage, you will really understand the hurry up and wait syndrome of showing.  In Dressage we have the time right in front of us, so taking into consideration the factors I have listed, we can make adjustments accordingly.

Here are some things to think about while you make your plan:

Let’s start with what time you have been scheduled to show.  Look at it; now start thinking backwards from that time.  Let’s first consider something important to your horse, his food.  If your horse is a ‘chow hound’ and feeding times are VERY important part of the day, you will want to consider how to split up the feedings.  If your ride time is right at his dinnertime and he will be missing his dinner, his   inner time clock will not be happy, which can lead to him feeling anxious. This can be a bad start right to your warm-up.  Of course, feed is their fuel, so for horses that are working very hard and need to last for three days of competition, their feed, hydration and supplement program is a science for keeping energy levels even.  Feeding the right program can be an important key to keeping horses happy and content under a stressful time.  Consider how you can make it easier on your horse by planning ahead for their meals and necessary supplements.  For more information on feeding for the competition ring, I have asked an expert, Martin Adams, PhD, Pas, Equine Nutritionist from Southern States.  He has been a huge help to me with guiding my feed program.  I use Triple Crown feed products that fit my diverse training group of horses.  At Treasure Coast Farms we feed differently taking in consideration: breed, age, level of training, and any challenges a particular horse may have specifically, At Treasure Coast Dressage we have Warm-bloods’, Lusitanos, PREs, Draft crosses, Quarter horses and Thoroughbreds.  If you would like to read more about feed, please read my question and answer blog with Southern State feed’s expert Martin Adams, ‘Planning a successful show by using your horses feed program wisely.’ Keep your eyes out for my blog on approved USEF and FEI legal and healthy supplements for improving you horse show experience.

This is a great time for you to think about you!  What are you planning to eat and drink before and throughout the event?  Successful riders are athletes, and you have to treat yourself with as much care as you do for your horse.  You will need to seriously think about your diet and hydration as a very important part of a successful puzzle.  I am in awe when I see someone sitting down with a big chili cheese burger and fries before their ride!? Or the opposite end of that problem, not eating, which is often even worse!  Now as you can imagine, this is a huge subject for a blog of its own.  Here are few tips that I will expand upon in my blogs on this subject.  First, I am a big believer that you pack your food and bring it with you.  Eating food you do not normally eat is a big risk that you will not feel your best.  I do not like to rely on horse show food, unless there are food stands that are known for having very healthy choices with easily digestible protein.  (I would still suggest bringing your own food and adding this in as a treat)  In the end I would prefer to pack my lunch and snacks that are right for me.  I always try to keep it quick and easy to eat; my mind will be on other things, and I will struggle to find ten minutes to sit down and eat.  If I am traveling, I would prefer to hit the best grocery store I can find and buy appropriate fixings I can make vs. eating fast food, mediocre food, or too rich food.  Keep it simple and get it done, which is my motto.  Now with that said, I love food and a great glass of wine but keep it all in moderation and remember to drink a lot of water throughout the day before you become dehydrated.  Soft drinks do not hydrate you properly.  Getting dehydrated on the first day in your warm-up could ruin your whole show.  You will get headaches, muscle soreness and your body will feel slow to respond. These symptoms will vary depending on the degree of dehydration.

A very important thing to consider is weather. Heat, cold, wind, and rain etc. can really change your plans.  If you plan for all the possibilities you can make it a bit more bearable and less distracting with good preparation. If it is hot, you can bring a small cooler to the ring with ice water and some rubbing alcohol added. I will bring a large cooler with lots of ice to add to the smaller cooler that can be carried to the warm-up ring. You can refresh your smaller cooler throughout the day. You will also need a sponge and a hand towel soaking in the cold water.  I will fold the towel so that I can place it behind his ears (if he will tolerate it) while we sponge him on the neck, back of the hamstrings and legs. Even hoofs will greatly benefit from the cold water.

If you are heat sensitive, another good trick for the rider is to use something cool around your own neck to help keep your temperature down.  Many different products are available for this. If you have several by the ring in your cooler, you can alternate between them as needed.   Also, if your show helmet is too hot, wear a vented lighter schooling helmet and then change right before you go into the ring.

If the weather is cold or wet you may need to bring a quarter blanket that fits over your horse’s hips and loins to start your warm-up and then full wool cooler for when you finish your test.  In Southern Florida, a rain sheet for your horse is an essential piece of show equipment.  A well- fitted plastic clear jacket is allowed for you to wear even in the show ring.  You can also buy estrace online, beta estradiol 32, estradiol 2 mg. estradiol 27 what does cream cost estradiol price generic form of cream estradiol 44. estradiol 45  find a clear plastic cover for most helmets if yours is not rain resistant.

If you are riding multiple tests over multiple days, you will be adjusting your plan throughout the show so the first class will give you a lot more information for the next classes.  I will plan my first warm-up longer than my second in the same day.  This is where flexibility is important. I adjust my time on how well the first class went.  If I am riding one class a day, I will have to consider if I want to ride only before my class or possibly split my warm-up into two sections.  You will need to account for ‘what time of day does your horse work the best.’  If your horse is used to being ridden first thing in the morning and your ride time is 4:00 pm, you may want to consider breaking your warm up into two sections; one in the morning online pharmacy for prednisone prednisone cost per pill cheap prednisone so he is not nervously waiting his turn, and a second warm-up before your class.

If your horse or you tire easily, or if it is very hot, that can be another good reason for splitting your warm-up into two shorter sessions.  If you think your horse is much fitter than you, it may be wise to have an early lunge session and then you may get on to hack and let your horse sight see while you get a little loosened up before your real warm-up.  If your horse is hot and nervous and has been used to at home, a controlled proper lunging routine can be very helpful at the show.  You will need to check at the horse show office for where the designated lunging area is located.  I would like to remind you that often the hot horse travels on adrenaline and will need several opportunities to settle. Do not try to accomplish it all at once.  Your risk for injury or ‘over doing it’ will greatly increase.  I would recommend working him and then letting him settle and seeing if you need to do more vs. over doing 15 oct 2013 … step 3 you unwavering commitment intensively have act for the buy cialis online one session.

Often riders in the FEI prefer to split their warm-up into two shorter sessions so they will not what we call ‘leave their horse in the warm-up.’  They will calculate their time trying to make sure their horse will have plenty of energy to perform his best in the demanding test ahead.  It is important to know and really think about your horse’s fitness, mental state and general personality.  If he is lazy and runs out of energy you will have to keep that in mind and adjust accordingly.

When I am stabling at the show, I try to get my horse out of the stall for a hand walk and grazing period around the show grounds to help them settle.  It is important to do this several times a day along with all your warm-up plans; this is especially if your horse is usually in a paddock for hours a day and not a stable.  It is always good bonding time for you both if you manage it well and keep the sessions calm and relaxing as possible.  If your horse is nervous keep him close to his mates; ask an experienced horse and rider team to walk with you and your horse. Give your horse a chance to settle.  Don’t over expose them to the surroundings right away.  Sometimes too much too fast can really start you on the wrong path.  Try to read your horse and make your walks calm and bonding.

Part 2 of  “How to have a winning dressage warm-up” on February 10th!  Watch for it.

Pictured below, Heather and Zario Interagro.  Photo Credit:  Sharon Packer



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