The warm-up arena can be a stressful, hazardous and at times, downright chaotic place for both man and beast. Even the seasoned pros of the horse world can find the collecting ring a challenge at times. Here’s nine thoughts that typically go through most riders' minds at least once while warming up
1. ‘What happened to left-to-left?’
Unless things have changed since your Pony Club days, why do some people insist on ignoring the universally-known fact that while riding, oncoming horses should pass left shoulder to left shoulder? Thus resulting in near head-on collisions.
2. ‘Am I allowed to change the rein?’
Hmmmm, everyone is riding in the same direction (typically showjumping collecting rings only). But the warm-up isn’t tiny space so you are struggling to understand why this is the case. In order to avoid creating bedlam, you go with the flow and stay on the one rein, even though it’s killing you inside.
3. ‘Don’t scowl at me just because I want to ride a circle’
You are fairly sure that the ‘scowler’ doesn’t have exclusive rights to this particular warm-up arena, so why do they feel the need to give you evils each time you carefully ride a circle, while doing your best to keep out of everyone’s way?
4. ‘Please don’t use my horse as an emergency stop barrier’
This is one of the worst. When someone can’t stop their horse so they use your beautifully behaved four-legged friend as a bumper car instead. Totally unacceptable.
5. ‘Where on earth is my helper?’
That panic when you’re desperately seeking some advice pre-dressage test or you need a warm-up fence altering and a quick scan of onlookers proves unfruitful, is a panic like no other. HELP!
6. ‘I can’t hear you’
So you’re relaying information (or at least trying to) back to your helper/trainer pre-dressage test or asking them to put the warm-up fence up a couple of holes, but they can’t hear a word you’re saying. So you resort to some form of improvised sign language instead.
7. ‘I’m next in, PLEASE let me jump a fence’
You’ve been waiting patiently for the warm-up fence that one person has been hogging for the past 15 minutes and now you really need to jump something as you’re next in.
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8. ‘Why are you warming up over 1.50m for a 90cm class?’
This is a classic. Not strictly allowed, but there’s often one who insists on jumping at least six holes bigger than the class they are in.
9. ‘Oh dear God it’s *insert famous rider’s name here*’
You know the feeling. You’re happily warming up with your humble little steed and one of the best-known faces of equestrian sport steps into the collecting ring. Suddenly you can’t concentrate, question every last thing you are doing down to ‘is my hair net the correct shade?’ and resort to walking around trying not to stare at them.