Too Much Warmup? Been There Done That?

Sunday – the 2016 PEC Schooling Show Championships.

PEC 2016 October shooling show

Really well-organized, and super relaxed atmosphere!  Well, everything seems relaxing when you’re not the one trying to make everything look easy on top of a tight and distracted horse.

No magic pumpkin ride showed up to take Valiosa to the ball so she stayed home this time.  I drove down real quick to watch half of the Training Level Test 2 class and half of the Training Level Test 3 class, lovely horses.

Came away with something unexpected:

I’m killing my horse in the warmup!  Compared to other riders, I’m spending longer in there, wanting to set her up just right, and before the second class we head back in there again.  It could be too much…

walking in dressage arena
Any more warmup and she’ll fall asleep…

She’s not a horse with a lot of dynamic energy or a huge amount of tense insecurity to work off before being able to settle in the showring (OK, just ignore the 2 shows with bolting.).  And getting to a new level of thoroughness is obviously not going to happen during show warmup schooling…

how long should a dressage warm up be
At-home shots, because I have to kill you with Grey Mare overload.

training level dressage warm upNext time out, we’re ditching half the warmup work!  This will be interesting.  (Come on, experiment!  It’s legal.)  Now watch us completely blow up and jump out over the rails instead.

Closing with, the Breech Poll Results!

Answer Percent
Pikeur 33%  
Other: 24%  
Romfh 19%  
Good Rider 10%  
Equiline 10%  
Cavallo 5%  
Kastel 0%  
HKM 0%  
Other Answer
Animo! So comfy. And Kentuckys.
Smartpak Piper

So once again, Pikeur comes out on top for “best overall”.  I have a pair of Romfhs on backorder for December now.  Hope I don’t regret it!

And USG… Really?  Sure, they’re unbreakable.  My two pairs keep going, and going.  But the material, neh, a little starchy…

Elinor Yee dressage

10 thoughts on “Too Much Warmup? Been There Done That?

  1. A very common mistake people make: overdoing the warmup AND trying to school things at the show. After the last couple of years showing Finn I finally learned not to leave all the energy in the warm up. Just loosen up the horse with pretty much the warm up you would do at home (in fact, make a plan for a good warm up that would work in a crowded ring), and then go have some fun and do your best. Finn would get sluggish if tired. Star gets more tense when tired, more braced and more difficult to get round. Interesting, eh? So sometimes our first test is better in terms of self-carriage, although she might be more focused in the second test. Your pictures of the grey mare are looking fantastic, by the way. Clearly progress is happening!

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    1. So many thoughts on this! The biggest thing for me was to overcome that wish for getting a very relaxed, swinging gait, and sort of a complete submission. Not going to happen in the warmup with the young horse, so I might as well get over it!
      I get that sluggish feeling, too, in the second test, where yes, she’s more focused, just like Finn, but we’d score just a tad lower, since she’d have a bit less impulsion.
      I think the whole concept is REALLY interesting. After so many shows, and observing so many riders warming up for a really long time, it’s first now that I’ve started noticing the ones doing it for less. What took me so long?! 🙂 …

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  2. Overdoing the warm-up can take away some of the energy needed for the show ring. In hunter/jumper, we need to be careful not to exert too much in warm-ups. For us, it’s naturally about loosening them up and being ready to go. We’ve seen hunters lunge their steeds before warm-ups and before entering the show ring. It is a bit much since it may affect the ride and they not clear an early fence. It puts both horse and rider at a disadvantage for the remainder of their time on course. It shouldn’t be any different in dressage.

    What you came away with from watching a training class is precisely what I mentioned on building on your previous successes. A lot of riders, regardless of discipline, will see that and not make the adjustment(s). They’re afraid to make the change because they learned a certain way from their trainer. Ease/reduce the warm-up routine before practice and carry it forward into your next show.

    Ride well,

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    1. I’m always one for experimenting and trying new things. Still, wondering why it took me so long to recognize the need for this with my young mare 🙂
      I never wear her out at home, always looking to end before “she’s done for”, but somehow I thought she needed more when in a show environment… Well, it will be interesting to see how this pans out. We’ll be able to make it to a last show this month. Fingers crossed she doesn’t blow a fuse in the actual showring instead. She is, after all, only 5 🙂


  3. I have variable warm ups. It depends on the weather ( hot, cool) and the time of day. And…what my own energy level is. I always lunge Biasini at a show. This is not to tire him out. I lunge him with a snaffle and no tack or side reins. Two circles at trot, one circle at canter. Then I crouch down and cluck and rattle the lunge whip. If he just canters faster I can stop there and then. If he goes off into a rodeo show then I know I have to do a few more circles. This process it to allow him to get rid of any nerves he may be feeling. If he has nerves I will get bucking when I cluck and jiggle the whip, if he is calm I will not. It works really well for us.

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    1. It’s great when you’ve come to a point in the relationship that you can read, and learn to expect, what you’ll get once in the showring. Love it!
      With the young horse, it’s still sort of a wild card… Although this mare really should get an award card as a Saint, she’s very good for her age.
      I love to read other rider’s strategies – and, eventually, come up with just the right formula. (Yes, yes, please let the right formula come…)


    1. Yes I DO, but suffer anyway. It’s awful here in the summer. And summer really only ended, what 5 days ago. But, I find it so difficult to switch between kneepatch breeches and full seats. Maybe the kneepatch ones I have are just too slippery, don’t know, but it definitely is an entirely different feel. I should experiment more with this.


  4. oh yeah … easy to over do it. Speedy needs 20 minutes tops for the first class and no more than 10 or so minutes for the next one. If I warm up any longer, he gets grouchy and will be naughty just out of spite. We know Izzy needs 45 minutes to an hour. That boy’s got nuclear power – it never runs out.

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