Hello and welcome the first installment of HTH Weekly Exercise. Check back at the beginning of each week for a new exercise for the horse and rider. Each exercise is designed to help you become a thinking rider so that you can continue to build a healthy partnership with your horse.
A horse should warm up in energetic and loose gaits until he is limber and ready to work.
The sport horse is an athlete in much the same way that a track runner is an athlete. Proper warm up is imperative for an athlete's ability to continue to perform at their best day after day. All too often the warm up lacks focus. One of my favorite instructors Wolfgang Scherzer, recently reiterated to me that the rider must develop a program for the warm up so that at the conclusion of the warm up the horse is supple and on the aids.
Today I will introduce a very basic warm up exercise that you may have seen before. This exercise will encourage the horse to become tuned to the aids and carry herself with elastic, swinging strides.
The basic big-little oval:
To ride this exercise ride at a rising trot in a large oval (rounding off your corners). At the top of your oval (along the short side of the arena) ride a smaller trot, as you come out of the corners apply your leg and ask for a larger, more energetic trot down the long side. Remember to strive to maintain a steady rhythm and make precise transitions between the two trots.
Happy riding! -Erin