My Pre-Ride Warm-Up Routine

You tell us how you warm your horse up before putting him to serious work.

I walk my horse two laps around the arena, working on three different speeds, with halting. Then I trot a couple more laps, working on three different speeds at that gait.

Rebecca Sarkinen, Washington

My daughter showed me the best warm-up for the indoor arena. After walking, it’s fast trotting while listening to one song all the way through, then fast trotting the opposite direction through one more song. Then on to flexing and rollbacks with my Quarter Horse mare.

Dina Connolley, Minnesota

My pony is a professional puffer belly. To avoid risking angry teeth from tightening the girth all at once, I lead her briskly 100 feet from barn to pasture, then tighten a hole. Brisk jog back, tighten a hole. Repeat. She’s never had a cold back or needed a long warm-up after that.

Suzanne Reigel, Pennsylvania

Durango, my 20-year-old Morgan gelding, needs a little extra warming up to enjoy our rides and do his best. I take him out on a 10- or 15-minute “mini trail ride” around our property—just walking and relaxing—before arena work. He’s calm enough to do that, and it really gets the kinks out before I ask for anything more demanding.

Nikki Angstrom, Nevada

I loosen my Appaloosa gelding with a couple circuits at a nice, going-places walk. Then I get his blood flowing with easy trotting and loping. Finally, I get his joints flexing on smaller circles and lateral work such as leg-yields.

Jeannette Rose, California

As a “senior rider,” I know how long it takes me to warm up—a lot longer than it did when I was young. So, with my teenage Friesian gelding, I do a good 15 or 20 minutes of easy walking and jogging on the rail before circling or anything else.

Sue Mounts, North Carolina

My Paint mare is a little spooky, so after some time at a walk, I just keep riding figures (circles, figure-eights, serpentines) at a steady trot until I feel she’s really paying attention to me. When her mind is ready, I know her body is ready, too.

Sophie Ellison, New Jersey

I typically do two laps of the arena at a walk. We’ll also do some flexions, then comes a posting trot for a few laps. Finally, a seated and then two-point (seat out of the saddle) canter.

Tess Hegarty, Oregon

My young Arabian gelding has a lot of go. After walking and trotting, I lope him around until he’ll go on a completely loose rein without fussing.

Tommy Morrison, Texas

Posting trot is my go-to gear after walking. I can get my mare really going and loosened up while minimizing the concussion on her back. (Plus it warms me up, as well.)

Bethany Mahon, California

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