Test Yourself! Know How to Warm Your Horse Up…Properly? - Horse&Rider

Trivia Challenge: Know How to Warm Your Horse Up...*Properly*?

Answer the questions, then check at bottom for the key. For more great information about horses, read H&R’s ‘The Ride’ newsletter. (Not getting it? Sign up below—it’s free!)
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Cartoon horse ponders true or false

1. If your horse is ready to “blast off” from pent-up energy, you should turn him into a pen or put him on a longe line and let him buck it out before you get on him.

T / F

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2. Experts agree on the best start for a warm-up: Whatever else you do, don’t skimp on…

A) long trotting.

B) relaxed walking.

C) continuous loping.

3. You should plan your horse’s warm-up to accomplish these goals in this order:

A) warm, supple, loosen.

B) supple, warm, loosen.

C) loosen, warm, supple.

4. True or false: Good suppling maneuvers include small circles, serpentines, figure 8s, leg-yielding, and counter-bend circles.

T / F

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

1. F is correct. But it’s a bit of a tricky question. You do in fact want to help him get the “fresh” out, but you don’t want him to “go crazy” before he’s warmed up a little—that would be as bad as hopping on and riding hard without warming up first. Hand-walk him for a few moments first if you fear he’s going to be too exuberant when you turn him loose or try to longe. Then, on the longe, let him walk several circles before you ask for a trot, then lope—and keep the circles large. If you’ve turned him out, don’t urge him to run straightaway.

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2. B is correct. Easy walking is the part of a warm-up experts tend to stress the most. Put your horse on a draped rein and in as relaxed a frame as possible to loosen him up. Use your whole arena, or work in extra-large circles to keep stress on joints and tendons/ligaments low. Allow a good 5 to 10 minutes at this easy walk, more if your horse is older and/or especially stiff.

3. C is correct. Loosen your horse up first at a walk, using your whole arena. Then warm up his musculoskeletal system at a trot, then a lope (still using your whole arena or large circles). Finally, begin to supple him with bending and lateral work. This phased-in approach enables his muscles to warm and his joints and tendons to loosen and stretch gently, as they prepare for more vigorous exercise.

[DETAILS about *the* best warm-up for your horse.]

4. T is correct. All work that includes bending will help stretch and supple your horse’s muscles. Be sure to work equally in both directions, so you supple each of his sides equally.

[RELATED: Use warm-up time to troubleshoot problem areas.]

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