Warm-up Exercises You Can Do With Your Horse
Something that people miss when they ride horses is warm-up exercises. Warming up your horse’s body and mind is very important before you ride. I’ll share some good warm up exercises with you so you can get an idea. First, do you groom your horse before you ride? OR do you just take him and tack him up and ride?
The importance of grooming your horse isn’t just to make him look pretty, but to get to know your horse. If your horse can’t stand still when you’re grooming him, how do you think your riding is going to be? Are you in for a wild ride? I prefer a left-brain, thoughtful response to everything I do with my horse, rather than a right-brain, prey animal reaction.
A good stretch to do is to use a carrot and ask your horse to stretch his head between his front legs. This stretches your horse's back and lifts it. Another one is get your horse to stretch around the side to each of his hips. This stretch makes him more flexible.
For exercises on the move, see if you can get your horse to investigate things. (What I mean about investigate is the horse putting his nose on things or pawing at it.) Provide opportunity for your horse’s curious nature to get some exposure! Things like a tarp, a beach ball, a car, or a barrel… are you thinking yet? This exercise will get your horse to look at things and say, “Hey I wonder what that is!” Instead of, “OOOOOh my GOODNESS it's going to eat me! RUN!” Get your horse to walk over things like poles or tree logs. It helps the horse get more coordinated about where he is putting his feet.
Start at a walk before you trot! Ask your horse to go in between things. You’ll be surprised in how many horses are claustrophobic. (They don’t like tight spaces…) If your horse is worried, start with something very wide and work your way smaller! You can also ask your horse to step into things. Things like a tire, a stump, anything - just use your imagination.
Remember, just have fun with your horse, don’t make it work, horses love to play!
Now if your horse does these exercises with a calm and relaxed attitude, then your riding will be more fun. (READ SAFE) If you feel that your horse is getting worried or scared and is about to take off – use your good judgment and get down before your horse tosses you off! I have turned the dismount/mount exercise into a good warm up exercise, and by the time my legs get tired, my horse is totally relaxed about getting ridden, and looks at me as if to say, “Are you going to ride today? Or just get on and off all day long?”
Do some more exercises with your horse to get your horse’s mind back, then try riding again. I hope these exercises help you and your horse. They certainly helped me remember why I fell in love with horses in the first place, because I have fun and enjoy being with them!
Bandit says, "Aren't you forgetting something?... your helmet?" Remember, it's what you put IN your head that keeps you safest!
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