TOP show jumper Robert Whitaker has some very specific warm-up methods. We find out what he does, and why it helps his performance in the ring.
What is his warm-up routine?
ROBERT Whitaker has two favourite exercises to help ensure his rides are focused and go into the ring with confidence.
One involves walking his horse over a pole just 6in off the ground at the start of his warm up. The other is to drop the fence to 20cm below the height set in the ring, for one last jump before competing.
Why and when does he use them?
“I have no hard and fast rules as to which exercise I use,” says Robert. “Sometimes I will use both on a horse, and some days, I don’t need to use either of them.”
Asking a horse to walk over a pole 6in off the ground, either with or without a placing pole, makes the horse focus on picking each foot up individually, believes Robert: “It helps the horse to relax and concentrate.”
He sometimes drops the practice fence 20cm after a horse has worked over fences set at the same height as those in the ring, if Robert feels the horse is over-jumping.
“It is especially useful to horses like Prima Vera, who is super careful over every fence, and can sometimes try too hard.”
This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (14 December, ’06)