T HEORY N IGHT
Gradually warming up your horse is important for many reasons. This essential step helps with
the horse’s muscle function, quality of the gaits, relaxation and it improves concentration.
MUSCLE FUNCTION /QUALITY OF THE GAITS :
Warm up allows the horse’s muscles and joints to loosen after standing in their stall or paddock
all day. This helps prevent muscle injuries and strains on ligament, tendons and muscles. The
quality of the gaits are also improved with a proper warm up because when the muscles are warm
and relaxed they’re more elastic which gives fluidity to the movements.
RELAXATION /IMPROVED CONCENTRATION :
Warming up gives you time to get your horse to listen to your aids and gives them time to
transition into work mode. This can be accomplished by something as simple as planned
transitions. For example Halt at A, after 5 seconds walk on, rising trot at E, Walk at C, rising trot
at B, Walk at A.
HOW TO DO A WARM UP?
A proper warm up should be at least 15 minutes; longer with older horses or in cold weather. If
your horse still feels stiff after 15 minutes, extend your warm up. A 30 minute warm up in cold
weather or with an older horse is fairly common. As your riding advances you’ll develop a feel
for what your horse needs. When in doubt make sure you ask your coach or a more advanced
rider whom you trust.
Warm up can be done in many different ways. You can practice different figures and
movements, such as a serpentine. Make sure you ask your coach before practicing newly taught
movements on your own some are not appropriate for warming up.
You can do your whole warm up while mounted or you can start your warm up on the ground.
To start your warm up on the ground simply hand walk your horse around the arena. Keep in
mind, even when your horse has been hand walked
you’ll still have to walk for a little while once you’ve
A nice example of trotting on a light contact
Cooling out your horse before putting them away is essential in order to avoid lactic acid from
pooling in the muscles which can result in painful cramps and damage the muscle tissue. Also
for some horses cooling out gives them time to calm down, mentally and physically, after the
excitement of a ride.
WHEN IS A HORSE COOLED ENOUGH ?
Your horse is usually cooled out enough once their heart rate and breathing has returned to
normal. At rest a horse’s pulse is between 36 and 42 beats/minute and respirations are between 8
and 16 breaths/minute. However knowing your horse’s individual resting pulse and respiration
rate will give you a better indication of when your horse is cooled out enough. For example if
your horse’s resting respiration rate is 8 breaths/minute and he’s still breathing at a rate of 16
breaths/minute then he’s not cooled out enough. Even though it’s within the normal range, it’s
much higher than his normal rate.
A simpler indication that your horse has cooled out enough is if you take your glove off and
touch the middle of their chest they shouldn’t feel hot or sweaty but should feel dry.
An indiction of your horse being too hot to put away is that their nostrils are flaring as they
HOW TO COOL OUT?
There is no set amount of time for cooling out. It depends on a number of factors; your horse’s
fitness level, the temperature in the arena, length of the workout, rigorousness of the workout and
quality of the air. A fit horse will cool out faster than an unfit horse. If it’s hot out horses like
humans will take longer to cool out. Short, easy workouts are easier to recover from than long
and/or hard workouts. The more oxygen in the air the easier it is to recover after a workout. The
air in lower elevated areas as well as air containing less pollutants will contain more oxygen.
Like warming up, cooling out can
be done in a number of ways.
You could simply walk around the
ring however that tends to become
tedious, horse and human will
soon be bored. Try using school
figures like in your warm up and
transitions between walk and halt.
A nice example of walking your horse on a loose rein.
A BASIC MOUNTED WARM UP CAN GOES AS FOLLOWS.
Walk on a loose rein around the ring on the left rein.
After a full lap, change rein from H to F.
Walk on a loose rein around the ring on the right rein.
Pick up a light contact and walk a serpentine from A to C and then from C to A.
Pick up your rising trot at E, rising trot around the ring one lap.
Change rein M to E.
One lap of rising trot on the left rein.
20 meter circle at A and C.
Change rein E to B.
20 meter circle at A and C.
Pick up your right lead canter at F, canter one lap, transition to trot.
Change rein K to M.
Pick up your left lead canter at K, canter one lap, transition to walk.
HERE ’S AN EXAMPLE OF A COOL OUT .
Walk a 20 meter circle at A.
Halt at E for 5 seconds.
Rein back 3 steps and walk on.
Walk a serpentine from C to A with a transition to halt for 5 seconds at G & D.
Change rein P to R.
Halt at M for 5 seconds.
Walk a 20 meter circle at C.
Check your horse to decide if you need to continue.
Dismount. Loosen your girth.
Hand walk your horse around the arena one lap.
(If the arena is busy just walk back to the stall or maybe go for a small walk around the property)
SCHOOL FIGURES FROM EQUINE CANADA RIDER LEVEL HANDBOOKS.
Try to change up your change of direction with one of these.