By the time you head to the showjumping warm-up at a one-day event, your horse will have already warmed up and done a dressage test. This makes your job slightly different to at a pure showjumping competition, because you’re really just getting his body and mind ready to jump a fence, rather than starting from scratch with a cold horse.
The most important thing to do when you arrive at the warm-up is check in with the steward to let them know you’re there and find out how many horses there are in front of you. Depending on your specific plan, aim to start warming up when there are six to eight horses to go before you, which gives you around 12–16 minutes. If there are more than eight horses in front of you, find a spot out of the way and watch a couple of rounds. This will give you important information about how the lines are riding and if there are any bogey areas of the course.
For many eventers, the showjumping phase is the most nerve-racking. Creating a consistent warm-up plan that you can rely on when you’re feeling a bit shaky will help you and your horse build confidence and head towards the arena in the right frame of mind, so that you can produce the best possible result over the course.
In the warm-up
The course tests your horse’s ability to stretch over an oxer, balance to jump an upright, open and close for different distances, and accept your aids. The warm-up fences help you check your horse is focused and able to answer these questions. Your warm-up routine needs to test whether he can adjust the shape of his jump and articulate his body over the different fences.
Strategy – build fences for good technique
A keen, forward-thinking horse’s enthusiasm for the job can hamper his jumping technique. Make your warm-up plan about accessing his athletic ability and encouraging his body through the range of movement he’ll need in the arena, without making things too exciting. Approach jumps off a turn and avoid long gallops towards fences, as they’ll open his stride and unbalance his canter.
This progressive plan will develop the quality of his canter, warm up his body and tune him in to his rider…
- Normal width, low oxer
- Ascending medium height oxer
- Square oxer
- Make the oxer a bit wider
- Back to a competition height upright
- Into the arena
You can discover more of Rebecca’s secrets for a successful showjumping warmup, including which fences to jump and why, in the November issue of Horse&Rider. It’s on sale 21 September.