Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Warm Up - Check for Resistance

Warm Up Muscles
Every athlete needs to warm up their muscles before a workout and so do horses. A nice quiet warm up, familiar to the horse, gives a nice start & sets the mood to every ride or training session.
Warm Up for Rider
Don't forget to warm up your muscles too!
It's also a great time to review your training plan or lesson plan for the ride. (Where did you put those lesson sheets? :)
I have one student who used the warm up time to also practice breathing exercises to calm herself as she was just back into the saddle after a 15 year break.
Check for Lameness or Soreness
It's also important to check to make sure that the horse is not experiencing any lameness or soreness. If done every ride, a rider can tell if their horse is 'off their game' and not ready to learn.
Resistance - A System's Check
A series of exercises, like the lateral flexion, can be done to determine if the horse is resisting or stiff in one or more parts of their body.
It's important to remove any resistance in the horse (there will always be some) in order for the horse to learn properly and more easily what it is that you want them to do. It also works on softening the face.
Refresh or Review
The warm up portion of a ride can be used to refresh or review previous lessons. (I do not add anything that the horse doesn't know how to do.) The horse will enjoy this as they know what is asked and can start the ride or training session with a success. Why not? It really builds confidence in the horse (& rider).
As a trainer, I sometimes find a certain point in a horse's training during warm up where the horse is not as far along as I would like, so my whole training session for that day can be reviewing previous material until the horse is really understanding (just prior to boredom). That's what communication is all about!
Cool Down
Likewise, the cool down can also be a repeat of the warm up, where the horse can walk or jog quietly and the rider can check for soreness or resistance.
Goal - Build Try in a Horse
The goal is to make the start of the lesson (Warm Up) and the end of the lesson (Cool Down) a pleasant experience for the horse. This will encourage a horse to keep trying and to enjoy their time with their rider.
Sequence of Warm Up Exercises
Pre-Warm Up
- pre-tacking & tacking up
- any groundwork in or out of round pen
- any longeing, if necessary
- partial mount up
- mount up & flex at standstill
Warm Up
- flex at a walk (checking for all points above)
- flex to a stop and/or E1RS and/or flex to slow down
- if ok, flex at a jog (checking for all points above & horse knows how to jog)
- flex to a stop and/or E1RS and/or flex to slow down
- if ok, flex at a trot (checking for all points above & horse knows how to trot)
- flex to a stop and/or E1RS and/or flex to slow down
- if ok, flex at a lope (checking for all points above & horse knows how to lope)
- flex to a stop and/or E1RS and/or flex to slow down
- if ok, review anything the horse may need to review
- now ready for the rest of the lesson!
The flex at a walk, flex at a jog, flex at a trot & flex at a lope creates and teaches impulsion in a horse. See article on impulsion.
Cool Down
- flex at a walk and flex to a stop to cool down
- a short trail ride or a ride down the laneway to get the mail! (that's another story!)
Other Training to Review
Other training pieces to add could be infinite, really but it mainly focuses on what is currently being taught. So if I were teaching a horse to spin then I would review the previous spin lesson to make sure the horse is ready to progress to the next step.
For example, if the horse is spinning using the fence as a guide and I'm ready to teach the horse to spin not using the fence, I would review the spin maneuver using the fence to make sure the horse knows how to spin.
So the rest of my training lesson would be weaning the horse off the fence while doing the spin.

Trigger's Warm Up
Trigger and I have been braving the slightly cold temperatures of January as we work on our lateral flexion, flex to a stop, E1RS, and our flexing at a walk, jog, trot & lope (& lope departures).
I will talk about Cruise Control in the next lesson.
Stay Warm!
©Copyright KISS Reiners

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