"Cowgirl Magazine" - Warm-up

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Take the time to ensure your horse is ready for the ride by giving him a proper warm-up. Not only is it important to warm up your horse’s muscles, but it gives him a chance to mentally prepare for more intense work. You can reduce injury by spending a few extra minutes easing him into the workout. It’ll even give you a chance to loosen up. Follow these top ten tips for success! 1. Start before you get to the arena: Brushing and gentle stretches can help loosen muscles before you even put a saddle on your horse. 2. No need to rush: Give yourself plenty of time to warm up. Ideally, 20 minutes will help loosen his body, but 10-15 minutes can also be effective. 3. Hand-walk before lunging: Some horses get rowdy on the lunge line. Hand-walk your horse to help settle him down, especially if you lunge before getting in the saddle. 4. Start slowly: Walking is great for the first few minutes. 5. Loose reins: If able, allow your horse to reach down and stretch his neck out. Keep your reins loose and travel the entire length of the arena. 6. Ease in a slow jog: After a few minutes of walking, encourage an easy jog. This will get his blood flowing. Use the whole arena and try a few large circles. 7. Bending exercises: Eventually, you can begin incorporating smaller circles and various shapes like figure 8s in the walk and jog. 8. Both sides: Don’t neglect one side when warming up. The left and right side need equal attention. 9. Don’t be afraid of a gentle lope: Loping can be part of a warm-up. It’s okay to ask your horse to move out. 10. Skip the workout: If you’re short on time, a 30 minute ride where you focus on stretching his muscles is a great idea! Warm-ups should be done in phrases. Start slowly and increase activity when you notice your horse softening and becoming looser.