How to Survive a Hectic Warm Up Ring July 28 2015
When it comes to getting you and your horse warmed up, your trainer is definitely the expert. They know when to get out there, if you need to get on first or if they need to get on first, and all the little details like whether or not you need to start out at the canter or just walk around for awhile. The one thing a trainer can’t help you with is the absolute CHAOS that rains down on you and your horse in the warm up with the forceful voices of like 10+ trainers yelling at their people and everyone going in different directions/doing different things. So, how do you keep up your side of the bargain by keeping it together through this mess? Here are five tips to surviving the most hectic of warm ups.
Probably the most obvious of all, if you aren’t focusing on listening out for your trainer’s voice, not only are you going to have a hard time keeping up with their commands, but you are reaaaaaally going to irritate your trainer. Everyone wants to have a successful warm up, it sets you, your horse, and your trainer up for feeling confident in how the class will go. Nothing will give you and your trainer doubts like failing to pay attention, so keep your eyes and ears peeled. Everyone understands that it can be hard to hear in the warm up ring, so make sure you acknowledge that you didn’t hear them if that’s the case so they can adjust the volume of their commands, and even the timing to assist everyone.
Key to staying alive in the warm up is spatial awareness. Just like in the class, finding your spot and “driving defensively” to maintain your lone wolf status is paramount to staying safe. The main difference here is when you are in the warm up not everyone is going in the same direction! So while you are listening out for your trainer’s commands keep looking around you to make sure you are in a good position to maneuver when and where needed. Another important aspect of this is to making a directional decision and sticking to it. That moment where two of you are on the rail coming at each other and you look each other in the eyes as if to say, “should I get off the rail, or are you going to?” Whatever the answer to that question is, do NOT do the “no you go, no you go!” dance…. it’s not pretty when two horses collide.
Little rules about where you should and should not be doing certain gaits can help with your spacing and self preservation. If you are walking, it is actually more courteous to stick to the rail. You will only be a severely slow speed bump to everyone around you if you are walking just off the rail; even if you are doing it with the intention of giving the other equine/human athletes their chance to do when they need to. Essentially, the slower you are the closer you either need to be to the rail, or the absolute middle of the arena (where all the trainers and grooms are) to be courteous and SAFELY out of the way of those still working on their warm up routine.
Stay away from the gate!
If you are in the warm up, it’s likely that at some point, some horses in that warm up ring will need to head into the arena for their moment! When that time comes, try to stay on the far end of the arena and avoid crossing in front of the gate. Not only does it make getting in the arena a bit like a game of Frogger for the competitors heading in, but also it puts you and your equine partner in a pretty compromising position, something no one needs before their class!
Thank your groom
So while you’ve been focusing on listening, spacial awareness, being courteous to the other competitors, and avoiding the in gate, your groom has been focusing on making you and your horse look LITERALLY perfect before heading in the ring. If it’s hot out, they are probably carrying your water for you, maybe even an ice pack or two to pop in your hat just before you enter. They might even be carrying your coat, stirrups, whip, a ladder, any number of items meant to make your experience better and as seamless as possible. Toss them a “thank you” as often as possible because without them, your warm up, your show, and your show prep would be just another thing for you to worry about! And you already have plenty to focus on.
Have you had any crazy or amazing experiences in the warm up ring? What did you learn from those experiences? Let us know in the comments section down below!