Before an effort, every athlete goes through a warm-up phase. The horse must also validate this step before work. Warming up allows the body to prepare for exercise.
Sometimes we confuse "warming up" and "relaxing down"... The horse's relaxation corresponds to what you are going to ask of him after the first minutes on his back, and before starting work with more specific demands. .
The warm-up takes place further upstream, when you are still on your feet. For example, did you know that grooming can be the first step in warming up?
Indeed, energetic dressing can play the role of massaging the superficial tissues by participating in muscular awakening and stimulating blood circulation in the tissues.
It is also a moment of sharing between you and your horse, and allows you to connect with him through a moment that he appreciates.
This moment also allows you to check for any abnormalities on your body or possible pain. To go further before getting on a horse, it is possible to perform a light massage of the joints and tendons with massage oils or gels, especially if he has slight stiffness, or if he has osteoarthritis. For example. The massage will help gently prepare the targeted areas.
Once the horse is saddled, it is recommended to walk it for a few minutes in hand so that it can exercise its muscles without carrying the rider's weight.
The use of a mount is recommended in all circumstances. The rider, by getting on the horse from the ground, exerts a force pulling the horse's withers and spine to the left, which will cause pain that can easily be avoided by using a mount.
Walk, walk again...
The long rein walking time is ESSENTIAL.
Don't make the mistake of trotting off in the first few minutes, and give your horse time to warm up and slowly get used to your weight.
It is estimated that 15 minutes is the minimum walking time necessary for the horse's skeleton and muscles to warm up properly before moving up to a higher pace. Walking time is optimal from 20 minutes.
The older the horse is or presents locomotor pathologies such as osteoarthritis, the more it is necessary to take care of and adapt this warm-up phase.
You should not forget that some horses, after the walking phase, will warm up better at a gallop than at a trot because the gallop is a jumping gait which will better warm up your horse's back.
Consult your veterinarian to establish the most suitable protocol for your horse.