“Do you use this same warm-up routine when you are at competitions or at home; as one of my teachers says always use the same warm-up routine and my other teacher says you should always use different rountines. Which one is right?”
Oliver answers: As we all know, all horses are different and you might have a warm up routine that you use at home all the time and that produces some very good work for that horse and if you can continue that at competitions that’s very good. But you always have to factor in the change of atmosphere which can bring a different mood for the horse and rider and sometimes produce nervous tension.
If your horse is nervous and uptight you might need to spend more time getting him forward, through and over his back than you normally would. Or sometimes the horse’s reaction can be an inattentiveness, and you have to start doing more difficult things more quickly than you would at home in order to get him to concentrate.
Also bear in mind that at a competition warm up you are there to warm-up for the test not for a schooling session or to teach the horse new things, as we would hope he has already been taught and is comfortable with all the movements he is being asked to do and you are just doing exercises to encourage the horse to produce the best he is capable of in the test.
Just try to have a good relationship with your horse to give them confidence, keep everything smooth, don’t panic if it’s not going to your normal plan and smile what ever happens.