“Having been up at Burghley over the weekend I was wondering how you deal with situations such as the long delay on the cross country which must have interrupted your warm up, plus what is your warm up regime for each discipline?”
Oliver answers: The warm up varies according to the discipline, the horse (considering temprament, fitness etc) and the level of competition. For the dressage I will always start off by initially relaxing them in walk, trot and canter before collecting them up into more of a test outline. For a 4* test, for example, I will make sure I practise my changes and run through certain bits of the test that the horse may find more difficult or is not naturally so good at.
For the cross country I will exercise the 4* horses first thing so that when it comes to the warm up just before I go, I don’t need to be on them too long. I will jump a few fences, practising different angles and making sure the horse is alert and listening.
When there is a delay such as at Burghley I just keep the horse walking, either in hand or ridden (depending on the length of the delay – if it’s a long delay I would prefer the horse was walked in hand somewhere quiet) and then proceed with my normal warm up once we are about to start going again.
For the show jumping I will do a bit of work in all 3 paces and then work on collecting the horse by doing lots of transitions to keep the horse sharp and collected. Then I will jump, beginning with a cross pole, upright, various parallels then an upright before I go in. I wouldn’t jump many fences at a competition warm up, just enough to make sure the horse was prepared and was going in a good enough rhythm. It doesn’t worry me too much if the horse touches a pole or two as hopefully this will remind him to be more careful once he is in the ring.