Take the time to ensure your horse is ready for the ride by giving him a proper warm-up. Not only is it important to warm up your horse’s muscles, but it gives him a chance to mentally prepare for more intense work. You can reduce injury by spending a few extra minutes easing him into the workout. It’ll even give you a chance to loosen up. Follow these top ten tips for success!
1. Start before you get to the arena: Brushing and gentle stretches can help loosen muscles before you even put a saddle on your horse.
2. No need to rush: Give yourself plenty of time to warm up. Ideally, 20 minutes will help loosen his body, but 10-15 minutes can also be effective.
3. Hand-walk before lunging: Some horses get rowdy on the lunge line. Hand-walk your horse to help settle him down, especially if you lunge before getting in the saddle.
4. Start slowly: Walking is great for the first few minutes.
5. Loose reins: If able, allow your horse to reach down and stretch his neck out. Keep your reins loose and travel the entire length of the arena.
6. Ease in a slow jog: After a few minutes of walking, encourage an easy jog. This will get his blood flowing. Use the whole arena and try a few large circles.
7. Bending exercises: Eventually, you can begin incorporating smaller circles and various shapes like figure 8s in the walk and jog.
8. Both sides: Don’t neglect one side when warming up. The left and right side need equal attention.
9. Don’t be afraid of a gentle lope: Loping can be part of a warm-up. It’s okay to ask your horse to move out.
10. Skip the workout: If you’re short on time, a 30 minute ride where you focus on stretching his muscles is a great idea!
Warm-ups should be done in phrases. Start slowly and increase activity when you notice your horse softening and becoming looser.