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Beginnings are always important. They set the tone for what comes later and the beginning of a ride is no exception.

Starting out with a few moments focused on movement and breathing can help you find your alignment and balance for the ride ahead.

Find a simple warm up routine that works well for you and make it a habit to start each ride with this simple routine.

In today’s video, I am going to share four exercises I use in my own riding warm up. One exercise for alignment, two for legs and hips, and one for upper body and chest.

Hit play below to watch the video!

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Daily exercises for an immovable seat, steady hands, and a happier horse

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Daily exercises for an immovable seat, steady hands, and a happier horse

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29 Responses

  1. I loved this because it is about bringing awareness to the muscles. I have a favorite stretch at the beginning of most rides. With feet either in stirrups or hanging loose, I bend forward at the waist and place one hand up near my horses ears (being careful not to round the back but to stretch from the waist) – feet stay where they were when sitting in neutral. Once I’ve stretched forward a few times and come back up and switched hands, I reach back toward my horses tail and give a gentle stretch to my shoulder with one hand. My body stays neutral in the saddle, just my arm and shoulder reach back to the tail and breathe a few moments there. Then I release and my other hand will have a turn to reach back to the tail. Thanks so much for your videos!

  2. I like these, especially the one for your shoulders. I like to use my time prepping my horse with Posture Prep tool to also loosen myself up.

  3. Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge once again! I look forward to trying your chosen warm up exercises!
    Best to you,

  4. Excellent suggestions. I’ve found variations of some of these can also be done off the horse at odd times throughout the day.

  5. This is definitely going to sharpen my awareness and connect me more closely to my horse. Thank you!!

  6. Thank you Callie:). I like relaxing my spine by doing sitting cat cow. Opening chest arching spine -pulling back shoulders on inhale and exhale round spine- tuck tailbone and chin for cat. You’re connecting your breath to your body while doing this spine warm up.

  7. Really good Callie. Especially like your explanation of breathing into the whole lower rib cage. I also find helpful two you have shown me…standing straight up in the stirrups while keeping in center of gravity( Win Victory position) and from upright seat in saddle to folding forward deep from hip joints with a straight back. Both help me settle deeper into my seat. I find 3 yoga standing poses on the ground also helpful…triangle, warrior, and dog face down. These seem to open all the joints, lengthen the spine, and bring awareness to muscles that keep one balanced.

  8. My trainer has me hop on and walk around while I work on finding the areas of tension in my body. Since my horses are very sensitive to the seat and smaller aids (like a shift in my core or upper arm), he has me start at my toes and work my way up my body to the top of my head. I have to find the tension, “name it” and then release it. It has really helped to loosen up the areas where I carry my tension (mainly my jaw, hips and shoulders) and gives my body more over to the horses motion, which allows them to move more freely. As far as my own warmup routine, it includes breathing exercises from my choir days, a few minutes without stirrups to help stretch out my tight hips, and a few minutes in a two-point type (as close as you can get in a dressage or western saddle anyhow) position to help get my leg in the proper place.

  9. Reply to callie’s warm up tips

    I love your four simple exercised Callie! Especially the breathing one! It is so calming, and I think it helps relax my horse too.
    I also like to use Wendy Murdoch’s shoulder clock to warm up. You have an example on your website of Wendy’s pelvic clock exercise. She has a similar one for shoulders that I like to use as a warmup.

    Sometimes my shoulders end up around my ears and I don’t even notice it! The shoulder clock and a quick shrug help me notice that part of the body better as I warm up to ride.

    I love your tips Callie! Thank you for sharing them!

  10. Thank you for this videa, interesting as always.
    I also go through a warming up routine when I start a ride, while the horse is at a walk and before gathering the reins, but I noticed that I am the only one doing it in my lesson, so I always felt a bit awkward while doing it. It is comforting to see that you find it helpfull too !
    My routine is slightly different than the one you describe though I do also the exercices 2 and 3. But first I rotate my ankles 5-6 times in each direction because I have very stiff ankles and I find that it helps soften them. Then I put both my knees before the saddle for a little while to find my seat and before I let my legs go down I rise my knees and open the legs to try and balance on my ischions a little. I find it very usefull because I ride only school horses and they all have a different saddle, and gait, so when I do this it helps me finding my place on the horse. After this I do the same exercices for the legs than you. And finaly for the shoulders, I rotate slowly each of my arms going backward, arm extended, and I let the arm fall when behind the shoulder to try and relax it while rolling the shoulder back. I do this because I tend to harden my forearms and it helps me soften them too. By the way if you have an advice to help soften the arms I would be happy to read it. I will try your exercice for the shoulders next time to see the difference
    Also, I usually do the warming up at a walk with no stirups, to let my leg go down and relax and find a deeper seat
    Next time I ride I will try the breathing exercise too, and I am also interested by the exercices that Katherine describes in her comment. The win victory sounds quite fun ! Can you explain it further ? how do you position the arms ? are you leaning on the front tackles of the saddle with the thights for balance or not ?
    Thank you very much for sharing !

    1. Hi Caroline, I’ll attach a picture here of the ‘win victory’ posture for you! Win Victory!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  11. Thank you for yet another good video! When I do exercise 2 and 3, or similar, I tend to get cramps on the outside of my hips. Do you have any suggestions on how to get around that, or exercises that might help! /Jenny

  12. Thanks for sharing this video , I have problems with my hips, so I do some exercises before I get on (I just make them up). I find that I sit to upright in the saddle, and it feels like I have a poker stuck up my back as I can’t lean back, so if I go down a steep hill I have to hold onto the back of my saddle. Also once on I can’t move my legs for a while, until I have loosened up a bit. I will try your exercises with bending the leg behind me. If anyone has any suggestions of exercises to do before I get on, to stretch my hips and loosen my back, I would appreciate it

    1. Yvonne, I wonder if you are pushing on the stirrups when you ride – that might be causing some of the discomfort you are experiencing! It may also be the fit of your saddle to you! Just some ideas to consider 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  13. Very interesting video and great ideas for a warm up! Thank you for sharing with us! I am always learning new things from you! 🙂

  14. So helpful! I am going on a riding and yoga retreat in Colorado next month, and hope to incorporate these into my experience there!

  15. Hi Callie, this is a great video. Love the exercises. They seem easy to do and also easy enough for riders with joint issues to accomplish.

  16. What I noticed as I was watching your video, was how your slightest movement caused a corresponding movement in your horse.
    Thanks for your clear descriptions of body mechanics.

    1. Patti, great eye! Yes, even the smallest movements are felt by our horses 🙂

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  17. My problem is am 61 really learning to ride properly for the first time. I have been away from it for almost 20 years. My horse is a 7 year old gelding in training and I don’t know that I can trust him while I am pulling my leg up, the rest I could probably do at the end of the ride when he has relaxed. Would love on the ground ideas until he can be trusted to not take advantage.

      1. He is a bundle of tension. He is a thinker and you have to watch is lower lip, to gage the level of tension he is holding. Would love in-hand course, but have taken a pay cut with all this nonsense going on and can’t happen right now. Thanks

  18. Thank you for these quick warm up and awareness exercises! The breathing is very relaxing. Thank you for all your great online courses. They are very helpful. Also I liked the comments and ideas from other riders! I noticed that Rueger was wearing a side-pull bridle. I use one but mine is braided nylon. What brand is yours? I may be needing a new one. Thank you!

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