After a busy weekend at HOYS, we chat to Tim Stockdale and get his advice on how to ride the perfect warm up at a competition
Taking your horse to a competition is an exciting experience, but the new environment and the hustle and bustle of riders and their horses can mean things don’t always go to plan.
Knowing when to warm up can be a challenge, but as Tim explains, preparation is key for success.
“Give yourself plenty of time,” he says. “This means you can make any last minute adjustments, like if your saddle slips.
“Think about how many people you’ve got going in before you and plan ahead. I like to make sure I’m jumping my first warm-up fence when there’s six people to go. This can differ from show to show, but as a general rule, six is a good place to start.”
When competing, it’s easy to feel intimidated by riders in the warm up ring, jumping far bigger than you would at home. But, as Tim explains, take your time and go with what works for you and your horse.
“I generally like to start with a cross-pole, but at big competitions this isn’t always possible. Don’t feel pressured to jump too big before you’re ready, go for a small upright if you need to and build yourself up.
“When there’s four people left, I start to make the jumps bigger and jump an oxer. I like to jump slightly bigger in the warm up than I’m doing in the class. So, for example, if I’m doing a 1.40 class, I’ll jump 1.45 in the warm up.”
If you’re overcome with nerves and your horse doesn’t get a fence quite right, it can be tempting to try again until they go clear, but this isn’t always the most effective.
“If my horse knocks a fence down just before I’m about to head in, I try not to worry about it," says Tim. "There’s little point taking them over and over the fence. If she’s going to apologise and jump a fence nicely, I’d rather she does it in the ring than in the warm up. You also don’t want your horse panting when it's your turn.”
While getting your horse ready for the ring is vital, it’s also important to remember to take some time for you.
“When there’s only two people left to go, I jump off the horse,” says Tim. “It gives you time to have a little walk around and clear your mind before you start.”