Howdy Friends! Pre-Ride Warm Ups: It is not only important, but also only fair to “warm up,” your horse pre-ride. What’s the best way?
Lunging is not really a warm up
Back in my endurance and competitive riding days I’d see folks all over lunging their horses pre-ride. So many times I’d see horses running at the end of the line, leaning like a motorcycle into the circle. That is terrible posture! Breaks down so much. When a horse leans into a turn, they are stretching their thoracic sling. We need to prevent that.
While that might “warm them up,” it also breaks down everything from manners, communication, to body carriage and correct posture. It’s just not that good. Best to change our warm up to a building time.
A Better Way
Better is a little in hand walk, and a few stretching exercises. I have ‘in hand’ exercises in my book, IT’S FOR THE HORSES. Easy to learn and do. And so valuable. EVERY exercise in my book releases, and “warms up,” muscles, tendons, cartilage, and blood flow everywhere. No lunging required.
When I ride from home I use the pedestal and bridge as part of Rosie’s warm up. The pedestal releases all the muscles, thoracic sling, topline, hind end. Some when stepping up, some when stepping down. And others when pausing on top. Stepping back down should be slow and graceful. Allow the leg to dangle a few seconds (not just a quick step down) to fully release the shoulder.
Don’t forget to back “Up” too
The little bridge is great for backing up onto. This really engages the hind end, loosens the legs, flexes the hocks. And engages the thoracic sling, so important. And did you know, all these releases improve blood flow? Yup, they sure do. All throughout the horse.
With or without my bridge or pedestal, I do these and other exercises before I step into the saddle. And my competitive horses were always more calm and engaged than those who were lunged.
We hope you’ll look into this. Your horse will love you for it! ~ Gitty up, Dutch.