Weekly Training Tip from Kate Chadderton: Warm-Ups

Kate Chadderton is an Australian native who operates a competition and training business in Maryland. She recently began offering weekly tips and advice, and we're pleased that she's graciously allowed us to share them here on EN. Keep an eye out for a new tip each week from Kate!

Kate Chadderton and Buckharo. Photo by Jenni Autry. Kate Chadderton and Buckharo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

After weeks (years!) of training and lessons, your performance at a show largely comes down to your warm-up. My warm-ups vary from horse to horse and between the phases. For the dressage phase I start with some slow stretching in walk, trot and canter. Once my horse is relaxed I bring his/her frame up and start to work on the movements. 

Typically I’ll go straight into the ones I know will be more difficult for the horse, eg. shoulder in, half pass. Once I’m comfortable I have the horse on my aids I will finish with the easier movements which are more fun right before we go in the ring. I want my horses to be happy and confident as they head down the centreline.

For example, (VS McCuan Civil Liberty) LOVES medium and extended trot. And he’s really good at it! So I’ll finish my warmup with a couple of really big ones and I swear he feels like the biggest and greatest horse in the warmup! That’s the feeling I try to take into the ring. For the younger horses it’s the same concept but I might use canter as it’s an easy and soothing gait for a baby.

In the jumping phases I use a similar approach. It’s so important to me that each horse wants to do and enjoys his job. Of course there are particular fences that are more difficult for the individual than others, so I like to prepare them for that.

After jumping a couple of warmup fences to get them going I then start to get specific. For example, (Buckharo) doesn’t always pick up on angles right away, so I’ll jump 6 or 8 fences on an acute angle to get his eye in. Generally it’ll be three times off each rein, but sometimes a warm-up will be fenced so I can only do one way. Then I always finish by jumping something big and easy from a gallop, again so they head to the start box feeling awesome!