Thursday, March 11, 2010

Warm-Up Ring Etiquette

Riding in the warm-up ring can often be the most difficult part of your ride at the horse show. A large group of horses being ridden at the same time in a confined area can be overwhelming at the best of times, but when you add a set of practice jumps to the mixture it gets even worse! Today I'll list rules for riding in the warm-up ring that will help to give yourself and others the best experience possible.
  1. If your horse starts to act dangerously, leave immediately so as not to put anyone else in danger. Either find another quiet place to ride, or lunge for a while to get the sillies out instead.
  2. Follow the left-to-left rule. The other riders are expecting for you to pass left-to-left and if you do something different, you'll throw off the whole ring.
  3. Don't walk on the track. If you're just walking, pay attention to what's going on around you and move out of the way of anyone going faster.
  4. Give the right of way to those who are jumping. The location of the jumps in the center of the ring can make it difficult to approach them if there are a lot of people flatting. Give others a gap through which to get to the jumps and make sure never to cut across in front or behind the jumps when there is a horse using any of them.
  5. Give other horses space. Your horse might be used to riding in close proximity to others at home, but other horses might not. Never come right up behind another horse at speed and never get closer than a horse length from the horse in front of you. Respect tail ribbons, too (a red ribbon in the tail means that the horse is a kicker).
  6. Don't stop in the warm-up ring. If you need to stop for whatever reason, pull over into an unused space or into the hitching area by the in-gate.
  7. Don't warm up at the wrong time. Double-check with the in-gate before you start warming up to see how far away you are. It does no one any good to have four people warming up at the same time, each thinking that they are 2 away.
  8. Ask before you jump. If you want to borrow someone else's jump, even just to jump it a single time, ask first. It is the polite thing to do and it will help to make you aware of what the other rider is doing with the jump. It can also be frustrating for the grooms if they need to change the jump and you try to jump it without warning.
  9. Ground people should ask the current occupants if anyone else is waiting before claiming a jump. It is rude to try to jump ahead of someone else who has been waiting and it wastes your time if you've waited ten minutes for a jump that you can't have.
  10. Don't run anyone's groom over. That's just rude behaviour.
  11. In a class with a posted order, use the proper jump. Count the number of jumps in the warm-up ring and then count backward from your spot in the order to determine whose jump you will be using (you will be taking the jump of whoever is that far ahead of you in the order). This gives everyone an equal length of time to warm up and if you don't follow this rule you will confuse people and potentially shorten someone else's warm-up.
  12. Be on time. No one likes having the class held up by someone who hasn't been able to time their warm-up correctly. Keep on top of things and get to the ring when you're supposed to.


  1. I get really nervous at shows, and I dont know how to stop it. Can you give me some tips on how to stay calm and enjoy the experience?

    1. It's difficult to say without knowing exactly what is making you nervous. Are you too focused on winning rather than setting small, achievable goals for each show?

      Are you worried about going off course, or about your horse acting out in the show environment? If potentially forgetting the course is making you nervous, try arriving at the show extra early and looking at the course diagrams far ahead of your class, and watching any other classes that share your courses. If you're worried about your horse's behaviour, try simulating a show environment at home or by shipping out to other barns to practice.

      Above all, keep everything at a level where you can have fun!

  2. Love the idea of the order of jumps to school based on the order of go. I've been riding my whole life and no one taught me this trick-of-the-trade.