The Crazy Thing My Horse Did After Learning This Warm Up


 My horse did something unexpected, but crazy cool after he learned the warm up I'm sharing today.  I’ll tell you all about that in a little bit.


This post contains affiliate links, see my disclosure here.  I'm not a professional rider, see my disclaimer here.

When you get on your horse, do you have a warm-up plan?  You should.  It seems like a simple thing. But the pay off over time for the partnership is huge.

I confess. I had no warm-up plan when I started taking dressage lessons from a German Bereiter 20 years ago.  But I’ve learned that the warm up is a safe zone where you and your horse can get moving.  You take the time to establish a steady rhythm, achieve relaxation, and encourage your horse to seek the bit.

But my favorite part of the warm up is the positive training atmosphere it creates. My current horse,  Dusty, loves it.  So, it’s a joy to ride.  All the other things going on in my life, melt away.  


Getting back to your warm up plan. I’m sharing a basic warm-up I’ve learned that you can adopt or modify for your horse. 

Here are my warm-up notes & figures:  

 First, I walk my horse in a relaxed manner for 5 to 10 minutes.

Then pick up a posting trot and ride three, 20-meter circles traveling from one end of the ring to the other. I focus on creating bend around my inside leg and riding the figures as accurately as possible.


        Trot Warm Up

Change reins across the diagonal and repeat the circles in the new direction.

Ride a three-loop serpentine from one end of the ring to the other. I change the bend each time I cross the centerline.

Immediately ride a second three-loop serpentine to return to the starting point.

Change reins across the diagonal and repeat the serpentines in the same manner.

Transition to the walk and change reins across the diagonal. I give my horse a walk break riding around the full arena.


Now for the canter work:

            Canter Warm Up

Pick up a trot on a 20-meter circle and when you’re ready strike up a canter.

I stay on a 20-meter circle and establish a good quality, jumping canter. I use the revolutions of my seat to dictate the rhythm I want from my horse.

When my horse is relaxed, I go once around the full arena keeping the same quality canter.

Change reins across the diagonal and transition to trot at the long side of the arena.

Transition to the walk and take a break.

Transition to the trot on a 20-meter circle & repeat the canter work in the new direction.

Transition to the walk and take a break.

This concludes the warm-up portion of my ride. There are some wonderful variations of this warm up that I will share in a future post. 


Remember that unexpected thing my horse did?  Meet Spencer.  After he learned this warm up, we usually began each ride with it. Or some variation of it as our training progressed.  Then one day he started doing it on his own in the pasture! I had two different people call me to say they were watching him go through the warm up at liberty.  They were both adamant that he was not just trotting around.  He was trotting in the same rhythm and relaxed frame he did under saddle as he worked through the warm-up exercises.  Spencer was a horse that dressage did not come easily to. Which made it all the more amazing!  He is in heaven now, but I have fond memories of our time together and all the lessons he taught me.

Enjoy Your Warm Up!

Mary Beth



Hey Fellow Rider! I'm Mary Beth and I'm so glad you stopped by.  I teach ambitious equestrians how to create winning mane braids (both hunter or button braids) fast on their horse or others to earn income. I have a passion for sharing my pro braiding knowledge and secrets so riders can transform their braiding skills from mediocre to exceptional.  


Composite Wide Track Stirrups...Who knew! I rode in my instructor's saddle a while back.  I was shocked to find that his composite wide track stirrups made me feel so much more secure in the saddle and my position.  My feet stayed put in them- no more slipping. I immediately bought a pair and I love them!  Funny thing is... this is the same way my instructor ended up with a pair.  Try them out!  I'm betting you'll want a pair for every saddle you own. You can click here to see the pair I have. 

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  2. Hi Mary Beth. I have the same experience with my stallions. We do a little liberty warm-up practice prior to dressage training and I’ve noticed that when they’re belting around the paddocks, playing “I’m bigger. No,I’m bigger”, they assume the some of the routines and configurations in the warm-up.

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