The show jumping warm-up tactic that you need to know
Do you ever wish that you could ride around your show jumping course once for warm-up before having to jump it in competition? You can practice jumping a million different courses at home but the one you will have to jump at your next event will not be identical to any of your schooling rounds. So how is it possible to ride the exact course that is set at your next event before entering the show ring? Simple; ride the course in warm-up. Four-star winner and Canadian team coach, Clayton Fredericks, taught me this warm-up trick.
How to ride full course in warm-up
With only three jumps set up in a row in warm-up, how can you possibly do this? Ride the course without jumps and use your imagination. Pick up a canter and envision yourself setting up your horse and jumping cleanly over the first fence on course. Then continue riding the rest of the course. Picture yourself in the ring and ride the canter you want to have in there. Execute every turn precisely how you plan to in the ring. Think about the distances that the jumps are set in the show ring and ride your practice course accordingly. If you know that a particular line is set on a tight distance then half-halt and collect your horse’s canter during this mock round like you will need to in the ring. If there is a line set on a long distance ride, then lengthen your horse’s stride as you ride down that line like you mean it. The purpose of this warm-up course over imaginary jumps is to give yourself the opportunity to cement your game plan for the show ring into your mind. If you ride sloppily around this course in a weak canter, chances are that you’ll do the same and cost your horse some rails.
When to ride through your mock course
I like to jump in warm-up before riding my mock course. When I am roughly four rounds away from my competition time, I pilot my horse around the course in warm-up. This way I have time to tune my horse up according to how the test ride goes and jump one final fence before I enter the ring. This test ride is a great way to make sure that your horse is attentive to your aids. It is better to find out that your horse needs to be more in front of your leg or respectful to your half-halts when you are riding around your pretend course than in the show ring.
You will never go off course again
There have been a couple of times that I thought I knew my course after walking it on foot and went off course on my mock ride. Luckily, I was not in the show ring and had time to figure it out. Take this opportunity to iron the kinks out before the real ride. This will help cement the course and develop your plan in your mind before you head in.
Keep your eyes up and do not feel silly
Make sure when you are riding around your mock course that you do not accidentally jump over a fellow competitor or spectator. Try to find a quiet area of warm-up to ride your course so you are not cutting people off who are trying to jump. And do not feel silly that you are jumping a phantom course. The best athletes in the world envision their competition plans and practice similar techniques. This warm-up tactic was taught to me by one of the world’s top riders and it works. Enjoy riding your mock courses and always feel 110% ready as you canter into the show ring!