The Warm Up - What I Did and How It Worked

I got to try the new warm up today. I used Betsey Steiner's warm up plan (see this post for a selection of warm ups from professionals) as the basis, since she said trot or canter after the walk, whatever is easier for the horse, and I liked that. I selected canter after walk. I summarized the warm up below, and added in an initial 5 minute walk on a long rein. I've written my observations (color coded) after each piece as a guide I can refer to in developing the best plan for where we are now, but you might want to ignore that as it will be painfully dull.

First Twenty Minutes
1.       Walk on long rein 5 – 10 minutes, doing my loosening exercises (for me) at the same time (no stirrups)2
3.       5 minutes of walk, half long rein, on 20 M circle (in easier direction first, then switch).
·         Lengthen stride and come back
·         Flex in and out
·         Check response to half halt
He did this okay. After a couple of minutes he lengthened and shorted stride, flexed in and out, responded somewhat to half halts, but not strongly or sharply. I'm not sure how you're supposed to flex out on a circle though. ...Wait a minute - we did that for months initially :)
4.       10 minutes of canter (pick up contact first)
·         Go large until going freely forward if needed
·         Go on a 20 M circle
·         2 circles, then trot transition
·         A few strides of sitting, then canter again
·         After several transitions, change rein across the diagonal with a trot transition at X (trot should be improving in quality with each transition)
·         Back at canter, ask for lengthen for a few strides, then back, and try again
We went large for one circuit, then onto the circle - so far so good. We did an okay trot transition, but then he didn't want to pick the canter up again easily on the circle. He can do this, but didn't do it well today. We had to go large to get the canter again, then back onto the circle. The same thing the opposite way. He won't canter across the diagonal in this arena, but he does it pretty much 100% outside at home and at Cheryl's (although we'd been cantering again when we hit the rail, not in a stride or two at X) so I'm thinking the smaller size has him flummoxed. It will be a goal to work on.  I tried the lengthen and shorten on the circle at canter. He is far from smooth and easy, but he understands the request and sometimes makes a good attempt, other times falls on his forehand and into a trot when he tries to shorten, especially when we're on a second or third time of it.
Second Fifteen Minutes
1.       5 minutes walk on 20 M square
He started out kind of crooked, but then got straight and by now he was marching along nicely in his walk. You could see / feel a difference by this time. Doug was watching and commented on it.
2.       10 minutes of walk and trot
·         Rising trot on 20 M circle (if not forward go large first)
·         Back to walk and decrease circle to 15 M and increase again (8 to 10 steps in, same out, use leg yield que)
·         Change rein and repeat
·         Transition to sitting trot and repeat a couple of times
·         Do trot walk transitions , allowing 3 to 4 strides for transitions
·         Do trot halt if he gets strong or heavy
·         Finish with sitting trot on circle – leg yield in, start leg yielding out and half way there walk and continue leg yield out
He moves in and out easily from my leg on the circle - why can't we leg yeild going large??? He was putting his head up on the sitting trot / walk transitions. Our finesse isn't good in this one, i.e. getting the exact shape and size, good transitions, but it wasn't bad.
Walk on a long rein break and then ready for work (this may be a complete ride, depending on the day).

Conclusion - parts of this warm up are still challenging for Rogo (I guess that's okay after the first 10 minutes or so?), although he is at least schooling all of it. I think the initial canter trot transitions would be better placed later in the warm up at this stage, with the initial 10 minutes of canter being something simpler and more forward to get the energy going that I'm looking for. His trot improved throughout the warm up, so it succeeded in that, my main objective. Ms Steiner suggests that the warm up is designed such that on a younger horse like Rogo it can be his full session and for Rogo this is a good work out. It incorporates all that he'll need for Training Level and much of Level One. I'll add in more free walks. He likes to stretch (good) and this is too long a session to go without stretches.

Both Savanah and Rogo were happy to come into the arena today, after their free jumping yesterday. Savanah was down right exuberant! Doug got me to longe him on her first and then they did just a few minutes of canter work. It went so well Doug called it a day. I finished my day at the barn by longing Dan.
Tomorrow someone is going to come and ride Dan. I hope it goes well.


50+ Horses said…
What a great warm up plan! Day one, correct? I bet as you progress on this plan that Rogo will become more familiar with it. Once again, I really liked this plan and think I will incorporate some of it into my rides. Thanks for sharing! :)
juliette said…
You and Rogo are off to a good start with this. He is going to improve, I am sure, as he gets more familiar with the new warmup. Hooray for Doug and Savannah and good luck with Dan and your new rider today!
Anonymous said…
Good plan - you may need to modify it a bit for him perhaps. Now if Pie and I just had access to an arena . . . sigh. . . I'll have to wait until spring.
TBDancer said…
Good report, Carol. And good assessment of Rogo's strong and weak points as well as issues of your own. We often forget that WE have to warm up in the saddle as well ;o)
Sounds like you've got a good warm up plan for you and Rogo. I'm sure it will work out well for both of you.

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year, with many great rides.
Dom said…
Brilliant plan. I'll have to try it :)
Jan said…
Carol, Sounds like your new warm up session was a success, especially in helping with the trot. Good for you trying it out! You can always make changes as you continue to see how Rogo handles the various exercises. It sounds like Rogo did very well!
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