The Perfect Summer Warm-up Routine

Updated: Sep 5, 2021

During the summer time in Arizona, temperatures can reach well over 115 degrees Fahrenheit. The days seem longer and you are constantly thirsty. From living in Arizona for over a decade I cant express how important staying cool and not over heating is. If you don't pace yourself and stay hydrated you are at risk of heat stroke or passing out. And if you are on a horse, horseback riding, its a lot easier to become dehydrated and pass out than it is on the ground.

A good warm-up is essential for a good ride. Rushing into a trot the second you hit the saddle wont help you or your horse. By not warming up properly your not saving time or improving your riding. Here is my go-to, perfect warm-up, for hot and sticky summer days.

  1. Walk around the arena 1-2 times

This is the most basic part of a warm up, I know, but its also the most crucial. Giving your horse a minute or two to stretch their legs and neck at the walk can really make a ride. The distance your horse walks will vary depending on how big your arena is. If your arena is around 15,000-20,000 square feet I say 1.5-2 laps is good for both ways. Allow yourself to stretch during this time. Practice two point or jumping position.

2. Take your horse's head to the right and left side

While your horse is walking, shorten on the inside reins so their head turns to the inside of the arena. This will help your horse stretch their neck and loosen up after they have been standing in the cross ties or in a stall. Once you have gone around the arena like this for a lap switch sides. You can also practice this in a circle at the walk or trot.

3. Practice circles and serpentines

Circles and serpentines can help your horse loosen up and engage their hind quarters. Its important to practice them at the warm-up, especially if you plan on doing a flatwork session throughout the lesson. Once you feel your horse is ready, ease them into a slow jog or sitting trot and practice the circles and serpentines.

4. Sitting trot, posting trot, and 2-point trot in both directions

Warming up all your trots is vital before a lesson. You cant expect your horse to be ready to canter after a 2 minute walk around the arena. No, you have to make sure your horse has warmed up all his gaits in proper order and that you have warmed up the sitting trot, posting trot, and your 2-point at the trot in 1st and 2nd direction before working on jumps and cantering.

5. Drop the stirrups

Even though no-stirrup work can be extremely tiring and make your legs feel like mush, it helps build muscle and improves your seat tremendously. Doing no stirrup work during a warm-up or lesson at least once a week can really boost your riding skills such as the sitting trot and canter. Not to mention it will get your leg muscles working during the posting trot and if your up for it, 2-point at a trot or canter. A fun no-stirrup exercise can be posting trot on long rails, jog trot on short rails. This will challenge the rider to use their leg muscles in the posting, being able to keep their horse going during the posting trot, and being able to slow their horse and maintain a quiet seat during the jog trot.

Creating a good warm-up that's fit for your horse can take multiple rides to completely perfect. Everyone has their own version of a warm-up so feel free to select a few of these exercises to include in yours. I hope these tips help you and make sure you are staying hydrated in this miserable heat! xx The Desert Rider

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