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Horse Articles :: Horse Warmups

Horse Warmups

For any athletic sport it's common sense to warm up the muscles. A runner going for a one hour run wouldn't think of just walking out and running with out a slight warmup. Basketball and football players warmup, as do many rodeo riders.

Yet for the average rider we throw the saddle on, bridle up, climb on and BOOM! right to training. A warm up allows for several things - it allows the muscles to prepare for the exercise, it allows the mind to prepare for work, it allows to do a check of horse and rider.

Skipping this or rushing it can mean an accident. For example, your normally cooperative horse was a little testy during grooming, you saddle up and in the warmup phase you notice he's resisting circling to the right. A tight circle shows a slight limp...what you may not have seen was he was kicked by another horse the night before and the shoulder is sore, not enough to be lame, but enough to be irritated. So the horse is irritated and you ask him to run a barrel pattern - and he blows wide, rushes and generally misbehaves every way short of bucking. "He's sour, he needs more time." Maybe he doesn't - maybe YOU need to listen to what he's really saying!

Don't be too quick to blame - or eliminate - the horse. Like us they have good days and bad days. Before mounting up do some stretches of the legs - use a fence or gate or whatever you have available. Stretch up high and twist each way a few times...losen those muscles! This doesn't take but a couple of minutes!

Once in the saddle give your horse the same opportunity - circle him at a walk each direction. Bend his head around, do a sidepass or some other small test. This asks him "are you ready" - and listen to the answer. If he's resisting make sure his mouth is 'happy'. Make sure there's nothing twisted that is pinching. When he's calm and relaxed do some trotting - a slower jog trot then as he warms up a minute or so at the extended trot.

Once both are warmed up it's much easier to work together. Ease into the work - as you are best familiar with your horse you know his signals when he's ready to work. A proper warmup can drasticly reduce the chances of azoturia. For anyone who has seen this it's something you won't soon forget. The horse may begin acting "off", dragging the rear legs, being reluctant to move. Often he'll lower his head and stretch his head out as the cramps take hold. It is important to not move a horse that is "tying up" - the situation is critical and needs immediate attention. Ideally have a squirt bottle with a mix of Absorbine linament and Bigeloil - this can be used on a daily basis after works. If a horse begins to show signs of azoturia remove the saddle and spray him down especially over the back and rump. Cover him with blankets, if you have banamine call your vet and be ready to administer banamine as soon as possible. Do not move the horse until the attack has subsided, and then keep him in a stall for a few days. Be aware that once affected he is more prone to having another attack.

For those with a rigorous exercise program, along with a warmup take five or so minutes to ride at a walk, relaxed, at the end of the session. Let his breathing return to normal, let him relax and just being with him without expecting or asking much of him. This wind down and warm up time is a chance to just "be" with your horse, as a means of accepting each other despite the differences in our worlds.

A proper warmup can make a big difference in attitude of both horse and rider.

About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in southern Idaho with horses and the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the links below. Amazing Equine Network System









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