Riding is often a collaborative sport. We ask for advice from our coaches, our peers, and our online friends. Particularly if you ride a lot on your own, sans trainer, sometimes it can feel like you're winging it or living on a prayer. We're here to help you feel a little less like you're flying solo.
Let's start with warming up your horse. As you know, in any exercise it's important to achieve a good warm-up in order to have the best performance either in the show ring, out on the trail, or in your regular riding. Some riders tend to breeze past the warm-up, especially at home, but this can be more of a detriment than you may think.
Proper warm-up not only gets you and your horse moving and loosened up, but also primes the mind for doing quality work. Even on the most basic rides, going through a proper warm-up that works for you and your horse will help increase the overall quality of your training.
How can your Hylofit System help you improve your warm-up? Here are some ways:
Since Hylofit enables riders to track heart rate in real time, you'll be able to see right away if your horse is feeling 100 percent or not. Remember: an unusually high heart rate during a given period can indicate pain, stress, anxiety, or something else that lies under the surface.
Just as you wouldn't want to go into a run or a workout "cold", your horse shouldn't be doing this either. By slowly increasing your horse's heart rate throughout your warm-up and monitoring recovery during walk breaks, you can optimize your warm-up routine by ensuring your horse's heart rate is up and his muscles are properly primed to go into more intensive work.
So, what about warm-up strategies to try? We asked the Hylofit community for their tips, and here are some responses we received:
- Yoga for the rider, transitions for the horse
- Slowly building intensity and a different exercises for stretching
- Lots of changes of direction and stride size (lengthening and shortening)
- Long trotting and flexing while staying off of the rail
- Slow work with plenty of breaks for the horse to recover
- Active walk, trot circles, serpentines, and stretchy trot
Team Hylofit rider Laine Ashker, a CCI5* eventer and USDF gold medalist, expanded on the idea of proper warm-up, emphasizing the importance of transitions.
"My strategy is always the same: always transitions. My horses that are more behind the leg do medium trot to a 10 meter circle, maybe a walk transition. For my horses that are forward thinking, I want them to pay attention to me and listen. So that would be some walk-trot-walk-trot transitions or shoulder-in and shoulder-fore. I want his ears are listening to me again and being with me instead of everywhere else. The strategy is the same, but the means may differ - what KIND of transitions vary by horse."
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