• Jennifer Bodnar

A thought on Warm-up

Some food for thought on an effective warm up routine.

We’ve always been taught to first walk, then trot, and then canter the horse and always in that sequence, but is that really the most effective strategy?

If you think about it from a biomechanics point of view, you’ve got a four beat swinging gait, a stiff gait, and then a gait with a lot of flexion movement. For certain protocols the trot may be most appropriate for a given situation; the spine is stiffened and stabilized, the horse has more diagonal support, and there’s minimal pelvic movement. However, if our purpose is to warmup and loosen the muscles to prepare for work they might be better served with walk and then canter. The walk requires greater coordination because all limbs are moving independently, and the muscles and joints are put through their greatest range of motion. The canter creates the most lumbosacral flexion, back lifting and rounding encouraging self carriage. Have you ever noticed how much better your horses trot is after they canter?

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