This part is a pretty self explanatory part that I believe most people have adopted into their workouts but it’s still worth mentioning. After flexing, I like to allow my horse to walk around and get comfortable with the saddle and her surroundings. I don’t ask much of her except that she keeps moving forward. Occasionally, I’ll ask her to extend walk to stretch those hamstrings out.
Next, I’ll ask for an extended trot. This, to me, is one of the most important exercises during a warm up. I usually spend 5-10 minutes with the horse just extend trotting, to warm up the muscles and joints. As time goes on and the horse gets more limber, I’ll ask for more extension. It’s important to allow plenty of time for the extended trot however, if you’re horse is not super fit, then don’t expect to do 5-10 minutes straight. You’ll need to work them up to it. You want this time to be a warm up, not an exhaustion, so make sure to find a balance between still fresh and too tired to work.
To challenge myself, I take a tip from our English riders and try to post on the outside diagonal. Meaning my butt goes up when the horse’s outside shoulder moves forward. This is good equitation and although it’s not “looked for” in western ranch classes, it’ll certainly earn you some points with old school judges.
This walk and extend trot time is also the time to acquaint the horse with the arena. If it’s a new arena, they’ll want to look around and I let them, to an extent. During the walk and the first lap or two of the extended trot, I let the horse be a little high headed so they can see the banner that flaps or the scary looking bucking chutes. This also affords me an opportunity to see what may be an issue area later on. After the first lap or two, I’ll start asking the horse to start paying attention to me by asking them to break at the poll. If their attention starts drifting, tuck the head and release when they relax with their attention on me. This starts getting their mindset into work mode.
That’s it for this part. It’ll get a lot more exciting next week so tune in!