Warming Up & Cooling Down Your Horse

No matter the discipline you ride, or the type of excercise you are doing (even lunging), warming up & cooling down you horse is crucial. Always divide your session into 3 elements:

  1. Warm up
  2. Exercise activity
  3. Cool down

The benefits that come with warming up & cooling down are the following:

  • Loosening your horse up
  • Get their blood flowing
  • Move their joints 
  • Engage horses back
  • Move their core
  • Get them listening
  • Increases energy
  • Better utilization of fatty acids
  • Prevent build up of lactic acid in muscles
  • Decreased risk of injury
  • Keeping the horses heart steady
  • Avoid overheating

 The Warm Up:

1. Start walk in long reins with head beneath the withers (long & low) and with alternate paces and diagonals (5-15mins).

2. Pick up the pace and canter around the arena with loose rein and light position (but keep a contact). Try to keep your horses head as low as possible to stretch his back muscles.

3. Trot loose rein in both diagonals while long & low (2-5mins).

3. Begin with large circles then go smaller.

5. Leg yielding, shoulder-ins, and ground poles are extra useful warm ups exercises too.


Note: A rider should warm up too (stretches & bends) before mounting to increase blood flow and flexibility, as well as to decrease the risk of injury.

The Cool Down:

1. Your horse by the end of his exercise will tend to trot fast. Loosen the reins (head low) and gradually reduce the speed (3-5mins).

2. Loosen the girth by one or two holes.

3. Walk long rein (5-15mins).

4. Untack your horse (hose down if necessary) + remove boots/bandages.

5. Hand walk for another 5-10mins (until horses respiration is steady).

6. Let your horse have some water.

Picture 1

Note: Do not apply a sweat rug/cooler rug if the weather is already hot and humid. Only use in cold temperatures. 

 Extra Notes & Tips:

  • Start slow.
  • Do not put your horse away while wet/sweaty.
  • Make sure heels are dry before stabling (to prevent mud fever).
  • Your horse can have grass/hay after cooling down, but wait 45mins- 1 hr to feed your horse grains.
  • The older the horse, the more warm up & cool down they need.
  • Increase warm up & cool down time by 5-10 mins in the winter months as muscles take longer to adapt in lower temperatures.
  • Using an exercise quarter sheet in cooler temperatures helps ease the muscles to loosen.


6 thoughts on “Warming Up & Cooling Down Your Horse

  1. Pingback: Getting Back in Shape: Building Horse Muscles | Tofino Tack

  2. Pingback: Ask, Receive, Give: Horse Appreciation Post | Tofino Tack

  3. Pingback: “Learn to Love the Canter” | Tofino Tack

  4. Pingback: Surviving the Summer Heat | Tofino Tack

  5. Pingback: Stretch Your Horse App | Tofino Tack

  6. Pingback: Surviving the Cold Winters | Tofino Tack

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s