Expert advice from international event rider Fredrik Bergendorff on warming up for show jumping
Working to improve your flatwork and jumping technique at home, plus regular sessions with a good trainer, will help give you the edge when it comes to competing in the show jumping ring, but your preparation shouldn’t end there.
How you warm up your horse on the day of a show can make a real difference to whether or not you achieve a clear round. A good warm-up should ensure there is communication between horse and rider and prepare the horse physically to take on the task ahead.
Fred Bergendorff says not only do you put your performance in the ring in jeopardy if you don’t warm up properly, you also place your horse at a greater risk of injury.
“Give your horse a chance to stretch his muscles and bring his heart and lungs up to a working temperature,” says Fred. “Your warm-up is also a time to check the basics are working and your horse is listening to you.
“I want my warm-up to be a confidence-building exercise. It’s not about trying to learn new techniques but putting the odds in your favour as much aspossible.”
Fred suggests riders have a plan of action but says this may have to be adapted to suit the horse on the day.
“As you work in, evaluate what your horse is like compared to normal. You might need to work him differentlyor you may even decide not to jump.”
- Keep it simple
- Allow yourself plenty of time to warm up
- Have a game plan
- Be positive
- Keep evaluating what’s happening so you can adapt your plan if necessary.
Know your horse
Adapt your warm-up depending on your horse’s general way of going or how he may be behaving on the day. Some take longer to settle than others, and if he’s too fresh or too lazy you will have to calm him down or wake him up for any information to sink in.
- : If your horse tends to be stiff when you first take him out of the lorry, walk him for a bit longer before you start working him properly.
- : Anovice horse is bound to be excited by going to a show, so the more he can see, the better. Get into the saddle a little earlier than you would with an experienced horse and ride him around so he can take in the sights and sounds of the showground.
- : This type of horse might need working in for a little longer before he settles down. If he’s prone to becoming very excitable, consider working him for half an hour at home before you leave for the show to take the edge off him.
Lazy/laid back horse
- : Make sure you wake this horse up because if he’s half asleep he won’t be listening to you.
- : It would be worth thinking about starting small and building up the practice fences more gradually to help develop the horse’s confidence.
- : Some horses don’t need as many practice jumps and with this type you could put the fences up higher more quickly. This will avoid you doing too much, which could use up all their good jumps and leave you with nothing left in the tank for the class.
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