When you first get on, warm your horse up for a few minutes at a walk. Consciously evaluate how your horse is feeling. Is he tense, relaxed, stiff...anything out of the ordinary...does he seem normal or does he feel off...
Get to know your Horse!
Twenty minutes is a suitable warm up. Some horses take more, some less. Incorporate in your warm up transitions from a walk to a trot to a lope.
Round circles are a big deal. Again, start at a walk, then trot, then lope and vary the diameter from large to small, small to large. The bend of a round circle stretches the rib and neck.
If your situation permits and you can go up and down inclines, this stretches the loin, back and hind end. Moving your horse laterally, left and right in an S shape, stretches the shoulders, ribs and hip. A low obstacle that you can step over stretches and strengthens the loin.
The warm up is for the rider and horse. Everything is about suppleness and flexibility.
Practice putting weight on the ball of your feet, roll your hips, round your back, tighten thighs and gluts. Put minimal weight on your seat.
Ride "with" your horse. There are three positions of posture: ahead of your horse, with your horse and behind your horse. Strive to be "with" your horse, a centered position with you in the middle keeping your horse right between your legs.
Keep hands low, elbows in. Get forward motion by squeezing him forward, tightening your thigh muscles and tightening your gluts. This lifts you up and brings up life in your horse.
To stop, relax your thighs, roll your back and melt into the seat as you move your feet slightly forward with heels down.
These subtle moves communicate your intentions to your horse. By using these same motions everyday, in every warmup, they become habit for you and your horse responds out of habit also, reiterating the Importance of your Warm Up.
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