14 tips for the horse show warm up ring. Part 2.

Prepare for that first horse show and navigate the horse show warm up ring like a winner. While riding’s not technically a team sport, looking out for one another benefits everyone!

Here are the last of 14 tips I shared in an article for Horse Canada.

Before wading into the horse show warm up ring, here’s what you’ll need in order to go with the flow and avoid interrupting it:

  1. Active vision is the key to a collision-free warm up. Defensive driving instructs us to lift our focus from the car’s hood ornament and steer to the destination point ahead. Traffic imagination considers “Where is that rider going to be” and shifts to an alternative path without interrupting the rhythm. Read the energy of the horses around you. Cut the corner to avoid animated or ear pinning individuals.
  2. Listen for the coach and rider having a lesson, or having an issue. Avoid cutting between them, interrupting their line of communication.
  3. Use your voice, calling out “Passing on the right” or ”Heads up to the oxer,” for example. Apologize if you make a warm up ring blunder, like cutting someone off or crossing in front of a jump.
  4. Be informed of your discipline’s schooling procedures and equipment policies. In English disciplines, pass oncoming riders left shoulder to left shoulder. Western performance warm up rings are more “free style,” with few written traffic rules. It mostly works, with common sense and courtesy.
  5. Try to travel the same direction as the majority. I’ve found counter canter is a useful tool – I can school the left lead even when traffic is flowing right. Pass on the inside when travelling the same direction. Avoid sandwiching your horse between the rail and another rider.
  6. Rest your horse or chat with other riders in the corners – not on the rail or at the gate.
  7. Avoid clutter, like unnecessary helpers in your pit crew in the schooling ring.
  8. Know when to scratch from the class. If it’s not happening outside the ring, it’s not likely to happen inside.
  9. (Bonus tip.) Remember, courtesy is contagious. Defer to those competitors in the next class. Don’t take it personally if someone sideswipes you or cuts you off. While riding’s not technically a team sport, looking out for one another benefits everyone!