Horse Show Warmup

By Terry Golson


Yesterday Tonka and I entered our very first jumper show!

The day dawned hot and was only going to get steamier. We needed to warmup, but not do it so literally that we got heat exhaustion. Tonka is a calm guy at horse shows, so he didn’t need to be ridden to get the ya-yas out. He did need to stretch and move to get the kinks out. As soon as I got on, Tonka was forward and relaxed. Exactly what I’d hoped for.

 

But then when I shortened the reins to take a cross-rail, this happened. Nose up, lower neck bulged, and short stride behind.

 

I don’t know what I communicated to get that. Tension? A precursor of demanding work? But it resolved itself when Tonka saw that the shorter reins (I’m trying to get them forward and up his neck) meant that he was going to get to jump.

You could practically hear him say, Oh, this is okay! Ears perked forward, hind end engaged, neck relaxed.

 

Tonka took the jump in his fine form. albeit a tad tight.

 

Upon landing, the engines engaged.

 

This was my happy and enthusiastic horse.

 

Three minutes of jump warmup was all that Tonka needed. Here is the fifth and final jump. This is a horse ready to enter the show ring.

 

Note that I’m still working on getting my hands up his neck – not easy for this formally trained dressage rider! Also note that the saddle has slipped back. After the warmup I got off, readjusted the saddle, and it stayed put. That saddle pad is only used at shows, and although I rode in it at home to try it out, I didn’t jump in it, which was a mistake. I knew that this show would be a shakedown cruise, and there were things to learn, like the fact that I have to fiddle with the pad to keep it in place. I also learned that Tonka does not like to stand around and wait for his turn in the ring, a surprising quirk for such a sane horse. Tonka needs to learn to chill out a hunter/jumper show where there’s a lot of “hurry up and wait” at the in gate. We’ll be working on that! But on all counts, the show was a success. My next post will tell you how we did in our two classes.


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