LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Call us 0113 2889701


How to Warm Up and Cool Down Your Competition Horse

How to Warm Up and Cool Down Your Competition Horse

Published 29 Jun 2016

“The Warm Up and Cool Down  is every bit as important as the schooling or test in the middle, so much so that if you have to shorten anything during training, make it the main block of work.”

With that quote by Vicky in mind, we look at how to do the ideal warm-up and cool-down routine for your competition horse, in conjunction with Dr Rachel Murray of the Animal Health Trust.

Divide the warm-up into three phases:

Phase 1: Passive walking in-hand (with a rug if it’s cold). Look for an active walk, you shouldn’t have to be dragging the horse around. 

Phase 2: General warm-up. At least 10 minutes in warm weather, or 20 minutes in cold weather, or when riding an older or rehabbing horse, aim for a relaxed walk, trot and canter. 

 The pace shouldn’t be rushed and you should stick to the outside track, with big circles, no less than 20m diameter, with gentle flexing. In very hot weather modify this by including walk breaks into the warm-up to prevent overheating and to conserve energy.

Phase 3: You can now do specific exercises, but still in a slightly warm-up style, using patterns of movements and not repeating strenuous exercises too much.

Cooling down after the test or main block of schooling

The cool down is just as important and should be at least 5-10 minutes of relaxed, loose trot followed by a relaxed, loose walk. This is how long it takes to remove the waste products from a horse’s system, which can cause muscle damage. It reduces your horse’s temperature and heart rate gradually.

If your horse has got very hot, you should hose or wash down and scrape in between walking to help reduce the temperature. Washing down without scraping can actually heat your horse as the water becomes a barrier that holds the heat in.

Although we’ve focused  on the competition horse, every horse should have been walked off sufficiently to have stopped blowing and the heart rate reduced before returning to the stable. These precautions may not prevent injury or damage, but by warming up and cooling down correctly, it helps to put your horse into the best position to minimise any injury. 

Equine Physiotherapy is also beneficial for your horse and can help to minimise injury & prevent problems occurring in the future. If you’d like to book an assessment, please call us on the above telephone number or Contact us online.

#horsewarmup #horsecooldown  #warmup #cooldown #equinephysiotherapy


< < Go back


We run a variety of Clinics and Events. Click below to find out what’s on and when.

Book Clinins & Events


ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapists

We are ACPAT chartered physiotherapists and always work with veterinary approval as stipulated by the Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966), to ensure that your animal receives the best possible care.

As chartered physiotherapists, we will always obtain your vet's permission before proceeding with the initial treatment.

Victoria Spalding. Chartered veterinary Physiotherapy