Make your warm up really count when you’re competing indoors with advice from showjumper Joe Stockdale.
Forget competition anxiety. For some of us, the warm-up arena at indoor jumping events is more intimidating than the contest itself.
“Jumping indoors for the first time in the year always affects horses – even the most experienced of them,” says Joe.
“Going from big, light and spacious outdoor arenas into tighter indoor ones makes the fences look more closely packed. Horses seem more aware of the tight space, and I can tell that they feel restricted. It’s tough for the rider too – fences seem to come up much more quickly.”
“My warm up for both indoor and outdoor competitions doesn’t change too dramatically as I like to keep the routine the same for me and the horses,” explains Joe.
“This allows for consistency in the way you prepare, and hopefully this will be reflected in your performance in the ring too. Each horse is different, of course, which should be reflected in the way you approach the warm up.”
Remind yourself of the etiquette required for the warm up arena – always pass left to left to prevent collisions and avoid circling in the immediate vicinity of the warm up fences so that you don’t block the take off or landing areas.
Don’t chase the horse in front of you to the fence – if they knock it, you’ll have to take evasive action, which isn’t great for your horse.
“I keep an eye on what’s going on around me and start the jumping phase of my warm up when there are about eight horses to go until it’s me,” says Joe. “It doens’t help to over-jump your horse – remember the warm up is just that – a warm up.
“I start by jumping a small vertical and build it up to about the height I’m going to jump in the ring. There’s really no need to jump anything bigger than what you’re about to face. After I’ve jumped the vertical, I tackle the over, raising it two or three holes at a time until I get to the height I’ll be jumping in the ring.”
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