Warm up rings are rather like driving on the M25 in the rush hour. Fast, furious, daunting, often selfish places where you need eyes up your rear end as well as a crystal ball to predict what that crazy rider in front is about to do and yet –that crazy rider in front might in fact be thinking exactly the same about you!!
Everyone’s got a story about some near miss or even collision that took place while they were warming up. Chloe remembers how just as she was coming into a fence, she spotted someone else coming at the same jump from the other side – not taking a blind bit of notice of the coloured flags marking the direction of travel.
“It was a scary moment, I don’t mind admitting!” she says. Luckily, both riders spotted the situation and pulled out before it was too late, “but she never apologized!” recalls a miffed Chloe!
It’s easy to get carried away with getting your horse warmed up, focusing completely on the job in hand and not noticing what’s going on around you. But, frankly, that’s not good enough – for everyone’s sake. To be safe, everyone needs to abide to some simple rules:
- Pass approaching riders left shoulder to left shoulder.
- Jump from one direction –make sure the red flag is on your right
- Keep to the inside track if you are moving at a slower pace
- If you need to adjust your tack or dismount come out of the arena or move to the edge
- Keep your eyes open for what is going on around you and steer clear of misbehaving horses
- If your horse is misbehaving move him away from others to gather yourselves in safety
- Ask your instructor to stand on the edge of the arena, not in the middle, and pick up poles if you knock down a jump
- Make your intentions are clear to the other riders by calling out “cross” or “oxer” when approaching a jump
- Put a red ribbon in your horse’s tail if you know it might kick or misbehave
- Hog the warm up fences – give everyone else a chance at the cross pole before you put it up
- Ride or pass too close to other horses
- Circle or halt in front of a jump, especially if you see someone approaching it
- Stand and chat in the ring
- Forget to say sorry if you cut someone up!
And if in any doubt…best advice is to just be aware of what is going on around you, think for yourself and everybody else….and most importantly stay calm and be polite!