A training unit is generally divided into a warm-up phase, a working phase and a relaxation phase at the end. The warm-up is crucial and determines the course of the actual training.
“We use the warm-up to really listen to our horses and find out how they feel on that particular day,” Jessica explains. “Is he in a good mood? Is he forward going and wants to work? Or does he feel a bit stiff or tired? Can I motivate a shy horse to come out of its shell and push forwards? Can I help the over-motivated horse to get rid of some of that extra energy and start focussing on me? What does the connection feel like – between my hand and the horse’s mouth? How does the horse react to my aids? Are there any differences between the left and the right hand? Is the horse in balance?” These are questions a rider should ask herself at the beginning of every riding session in order to adjust the following training in a way the best suits horse and rider on that particular day. “During the warm-up, we want to feel, if our horses move smoothly, if they can flex and bend to both sides or whether there are any areas of resistance or muscle aches.”
This is important in order to be able to create a warm-up phase that best prepares your horse for a successful training session. The feeling you get during the warm-up should determine the course of the remaining training. “Of course, it’s important to have a plan and to set goals for your training. However, we believe that it’s equally important to remain flexible and to change this plan depending on how you and your horse feel on that day. We try not to be too rigid with our training plan, but instead develop a good feeling and really listen to the horses,” says Benjamin. “If your horse is tired or has some muscle soreness, there is little point in working on difficult dressage movements or trying to reach the next step in your training. And if your horse feels very motivated and eager to work, that may just be the perfect time to introduce something new, even if you didn’t plan for that”. In the online dressage master classes of our Aubenhausen Academy, we show you exactly how we work with our horses and how we like to use the warm-up phase to best prepare and motivate our horses for a successful training session.
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