SECRET OF THE DIMINISHING WARMUP

SECRET OF THE DIMINISHING WARMUP

October 29, 2019 16 Comments

-DON JESSOP

I can only think of two reasons for warming up your horse before you ride. One is for physical stress reduction because cold joints aren't good for peak physical activity. The other reason is for checking in with the mental and emotional status of your horse because an unfocused or nervous horses is unsafe to ride. 

But I've noticed over the decades of teaching horsemanship that many horse owners have devised a third reason for warming up their horse. This reason has nothing to do with the horse however, and everything to do with their own insecurity.

A woman named X and her horse named Y are a perfect example of this. For years X has been doing the same warm up before riding. Which mostly consists of circles, changes of direction, walk, trot, and canter transitions and maintaining gate, sideways, standing on the pedestal, pushing the ball, swinging the stick back and forth in some kind of friendly fashion for ten minutes, then, if and only if, the horse is perfect, X gets on her horse and they ride together in a safe place with the guidance of an instructor or the absence of annoying others.

The secret X doesn't know about however, is that her horse has been learning a series of exercises that have nothing to do with riding. Sure they're fun to do on the ground if you're trying to progress toward passing a Parelli level or something like that but they don't teach the horse to be a great riding horse, they teach the horse to be a better ground horse. Do you want to know what makes a great riding horse?

RIDING!

But X is afraid of riding without proper preparation and that's why she spends all that extra time to make sure the horse is safe. So why does one trainer prove the horse rideable in two minutes and the other in twenty minutes? You guessed it... Insecurity or fear. And of course, the quality of the tests being done.

So one real question is... how does X become less fearful? And that question leads us to another horsemanship secret. Horses have windows of ride-ability. In other words you could warmup for twenty minutes and still only get two minutes of total focus from your horse and you could warm up for two minutes and get twenty minutes of focus from your horse. If X could just read "rideability" in her own horse she would know she doesn't have to do every exercise and still be hoping that her horse is okay by the end of it all. X could become less fearful by becoming better at reading her horse. I have entire courses devoted to this. You can watch them as part of our Horse Mastery Group.

In short, what does a rideable horse look like? That's easy enough to answer for anyone. Just ask yourself these questions before you get on:

  1. Does the horse say yes to simple suggestions like transitions on the circle? If you're answer is a resounding YES, then you don't have to keep warming up. Advance to the next step because his brain is focused enough not to be silly when you ask for simple responses and he's basically shown you walk, trot, and canter without acting up. If you're answer is not really, then you must continue asking for yes answers until you get them. Don't change up the game or lunge with out asking for transitions because transitions are a key component to safe and progressive riding. It's obvious, isn't it?
  2. Does the horse react wildly to flashing objects or loud noises? If your horse does react then keep playing with those same stimuli that trigger the reaction until there is no reaction. Simple right?
  3. Does the horse stand still when I get on the mounting block or in position to get on? If your horse does stand, go ahead, you're ready, it's time. If he doesn't, then teach him to. Take all the time you need but don't leave that mounting block until he stands quietly.

The point is, your warmup for riding can be diminished with simple effective tests that prove ride-ability instantly. That's the last secret advanced riders know about. 

In other words, when I'm starting a colt, the first week consists of long, hard warmups just to pass the tests and then short sweet rides. The next week consists of medium warmups and medium rides, and the last week consists of short warmups because he's acing all the tests and long rides. By diminishing the warmup time the horse learns to be mentally and emotionally ready sooner. But prolonging the warmup day after day and week after week causes a situation where the horse never learns the importance of instant readiness.

When people get stuck doing the same long warmup they inadvertently develop a belief about how the horse gets mentally ready and that belief may be limiting their riding experience. So one key to success is to consciously and creatively figure out how to diminish your warm ups to the point of no warm up at all. Your horse comes out mentally ready and all you have to do is make sure you take things slow enough not to injure their muscles or joints as you prepare for peak performance.

We take your success seriously and we have the resources for you here Mastery Horsemanship to help you succeed. Take a closer look and start advancing today.

Want to watch a video of how I warm up a horse with those three simple questions listed earlier? Post a comment below and share this article and I'll send the video to your email for free. Thanks for reading.

Don

 



16 Responses

Susan
Susan

November 08, 2019

Being exposed to your teaching style when in Pagosa 2006, learning from your videos and articles are a plus to my education. Yes, please send on your video. Thank you!

Kim Dhannon
Kim Dhannon

November 08, 2019

Great article Don. Well all of your articles and thoughts are great. Keep them coming.
I would love to see and learn from your video.
Warmest regards,
Kim Shannon

Kim Dhannon
Kim Dhannon

November 08, 2019

Great article Don. Well all of your articles and thoughts are great. Keep them coming.
I would love to see and learn from your video.
Warmest regards,
Kim Shannon

sharyn
sharyn

November 01, 2019

Great article…I’ve been doing this with my horse since we saw you at Laurens clinic. It was great watching all the horses and seeing how some took very little time while others took a little longer to get to that “yes”! Thanks Don!

Chris
Chris

October 31, 2019

Excellent Article!!! BAM! Nailed it! This is the issue I see with so many non-riders/students. This is why I get so many clients who want me to ride or exercise their horses. Many have good intentions to ride themselves but, many have allowed their FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) to consume and freeze them in bondage to an old experience or the God forbid: “WHAT IF???” I have lived thru many horse accidents, thrown, bucked, fallen off and have luckily have not suffered serious injury and have experienced being an unconfident rider. I have adopted a mindset about coming off a horse: I am always aware that it is a possibility but, my warm up is usually less then 5 mins. even when I am starting a colt or re-training a rescue or abused animal, it’s all about pre-qualifying them like Don’s article says…are you getting Green, Yellow or Red lights to throw your leg over your horse? I read the horse and my goal is always to make it fun for the horse & I focus on how much I LOVE riding and being with my/the clients horse(s). I look for the sweet spot ie: relaxation if training or if asking for a new maneuver. My goal is always to “RIDE” sometimes it’s only 20 minutes or sometimes I’m riding all day. I LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!! READINESS is the Key! Once I saddle or in some cases not due to a loose horse or emergency, I train all my horses to expect the unexpected. I expect my horse to be my partner, they learn they have a purpose…“my purpose”! I’ve had situations where I’ve thrown on a halter/rope and have to gallop full speed to catch a loose horse headed towards traffic which = my purpose! I teach my horses to recognize my intention. Horses are soooo amazing!!! Too many people give 51% or more leadership to the horse. We are the leaders, always have a plan. When teaching: the horse is always in charge of the time line and I have spent hours/days/weeks helping a horse get confident with obstacles, fears or issues…again Don does a EXCELLENT job addressing this in his article. BRAVO, Don!!!

Ruth Umfleet
Ruth Umfleet

October 31, 2019

Thank you ! I do still warm up to make sure the saddle has ‘settled’ on my horse and that all is well with him. This typically takes about 2 – 3 minutes with gait and circle direction changes; I then tighten the cinch and mount up. Thanks for offering the video; would love to see it.

Marilee Donovan
Marilee Donovan

October 31, 2019

As I ride less, this looks more like what I do. Today am going to ride on trail, so will see when Annie says YES and we can shorten our warm up. Since she connects almost instantaneously these days, I suspect that I have been boring her with a long warmup. Thanks. Would love to see the video.

Berta
Berta

October 31, 2019

Great article and enlightening perspective. I know that I need to work on providing more riding time with my horse, but have to deal with my lack of confidence and my insecurities. We’ll keep working on it!

Susan
Susan

October 31, 2019

Been there, done that. Usually my horses are quiet when I take them out of their paddocks, when tacking up and walking to the arena. If they have a moment along that line, I will pay more attention to them. Moving them around in the arena is mostly to be sure that the tack is fitting properly and is secure for me to mount.

Mich
Mich

October 30, 2019

Great article.

Gayle
Gayle

October 30, 2019

Great article! I love the point of shortening the warm up and increasing the ride time progressively! Always something to learn! Thank you!

Vicki Cross
Vicki Cross

October 30, 2019

Thanks for this, I was bucked off my 3 year old a few months ago and have been doing a lot of groundwork. I feel like its good but need to work on riding more. Trying to build my confidence with him.

Jenny Drake
Jenny Drake

October 30, 2019

Excellent !!!

Sunny
Sunny

October 30, 2019

This is really helpful, thank you!!

Robbin
Robbin

October 30, 2019

Great article, love your explanation and reasoning. Love to see the video.

Nina
Nina

October 30, 2019

I would love to see the video ! You are so inspiring Don and Rachel !

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