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Posted on May 26, 2016 in Articles, Top tips

Tips on Warming up at a BE Events BE80-BE100 or any Unaffiliated One Day Event

Tips on Warming up at a BE Events BE80-BE100 or any Unaffiliated One Day Event

Are you thinking of doing your first One Day Event, or perhaps you have recently started eventing, maybe you have been eventing for years but how are the professionals using their warm-up time what are they doing different in their warm-ups?. The warm-up is the ‘fourth phase’ in Eventing and although it the least talked about one, it has a massive impact on both riders’ and horses’ performances

The best place to start I think is with the dressage or as it is often know stressage warm-up!

Spree-Warm-up dressage warm upThe First thing to do is make sure you do not over cook your horse in the warm up as then the horse will not perform at its best due to muscle fatigue and tiredness.

It is no good doing an hours warm up and then wondering why in the test the horse is feeling dead to the leg, you should fin.d that 20 mins is adequate if you horse is fresh on arrival at the event it may be worth giving it a ten minute lunge (in the designated areas or away from the lorry park) then popping it back on the lorry whilst you get your numbers/ walk course then go down to the dressage 20min before your test. You need your horse to be in front of the leg and fresh to perform.

Horses should come out and work immediately ( this is something that Andrew Nicholson definitely expects with his horses) if you can train this into your horses then you will put less pressure on yourself then you can just school them in the dressage arena rather than feeling like its a test! The other advantage to this is if you are unfortunate enough to have a lorry breakdown on the way (it does happen believe it or not more often than you think) or if you get delayed in traffic then you wont get flustered if the judges are waiting for you when you arrive and you cant give your horse the allocated warm up time that you would ideally like!

We had four horses and board and a working pupil and her horse on the way to an event when the lorry broke down on route, we phoned ahead to the event and the dressage judge agree that they would wait for us to arrive. We got there via a transporter, we unloaded the horses and the kit and as I got ready the horses got tacked up and the warm up for each horse consisted of cantering down to the dressage arena trotting round once and then straight in to the test. Including the student not one horse scored higher than a 33.

Paul Gaff Eventing


Phase 2 the show-jumping!

thDS9U419NWhen you go to the show-jumping ; if your times are close then remember you wont need much warm up as you have just done your dressage warm up and test. If you have a gap the usually 10 minutes on the flat will be sufficient.

Make sure you horse is awake and in front of your leg, you do not need to jump the warm up fences 20 times!! 6-8 jumps will be satisfactory then give your horse a break and perhaps just pop one before you go into the ring just to make sure they are still on the job!

Make sure when you are jumping the fences that one you jump them the right way so red flag on the right!!.

Remember you are not the only one needing to warm up your horse so be courteous to others. Make sure you read the rule book about what is allowed and what is not so that you do not have an unfortunate elimination! The jump wings will have markers on so you must not go above the designated height in the warm up for your class as that can result in elimination! you do not need to be jumping 1.20m in the warm up for a BE90!!

Phase 3 the cross country!

When you get to the cross country think on your horse has already done a warm up for dressage, a 6min dressage test, a warm up for show-jumping, a course of 10-12 show-jumps and is now about to go cross country over 18-21 fences cantering for 4-6minutes!! So jumping the warm up fences x30 before you go is only going to tire your horse.

cross country warm upA quick canter round to waken your horse up and a pop of each of the warm up fences perhaps jump a couple on the angle and you should be ready to go!!

Again make sure you jump the fences the correct way so red flag on the right and be mindful of other riders.

Make sure you have correct number on especially if you are riding multiple horses and lastly make sure your air jacket is plugged in if you have one on!! you must also wear a body protector  under your air jacket !!

I would not start warming up over the xc fences till there is a about five horses to go then quick pop over walk round to bring breathing back then head over to the start box.

At the start box!

start boxOften  you see horses that won’t go in the box or ones that are leaping around mostly due to excitement and nerves. Try to walk your horse round in and through the start box whilst you are waiting. You can even walk down towards the first fence (not up to it of course but about half way between start box and first fence) .

Personally when they count you down the 54321 I am slowly walking through the box ready to leave when they say go.

If you have a nappy horse then you will need to set off out of the box with purpose where as if you have a horse who doesn’t worry then you can leave at a much steadier pace.

You cannot canter through the box (you will get told off for this and can be eliminated!) nor should you leave the box before they say go.

Other riders tend to go in start box at 10seconds and stand on a longer rein remaining calm and relaxed patting their horses and leave the box on the word go at a a steady pace.

At Somerley Park when I was still a working pupil I had done a good dressage, jumped a clear in one of my first Novices; so I was in the lead of my section I was on a very good cross country horse who had always been clear and fast so it was pretty much in the bag. I had Nick Gauntlett (who I worked for ) and Francis Whittington along with Nick’s family and my parents stood by the start to watch. I came out of the start box gunning for it. I was going too fast and didn’t see a stride to the first fence the horse got too close and hit the hanging log and catapulted me out the front door straight onto my head. I sat up to see the horse go galloping towards and through the show-jumping warm up. Every one stood laughing at me me and my mis-fortune and Francis stated that ” you are not supposed to fall at the first fence!”. I caught the horse walked him round then continued he jumped clear but I had around a 100 time penalties!

Paul Gaff Eventing

Another not to remember is that now you are allowed to use your watch : when you are getting to the end of the course and are too fast on your time then you will be penalised if you come to a trot or a walk same as if you were to slow and started going like a bat out of hell for the finish the watches are to help you learn a rhythm and to run your horses at a correct pace. Remember these are training levels; do exactly that – train your horses and stay safe!

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