How to prepare for a warm up arena at a show

Joanna Fisher
Joanna Fisher

International Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Joanna Fisher shares her thoughts on……how do I prepare for a warm up arena at a show?

This is the million dollar question if ever there was one. I don’t think anything can prepare any horse for a warm up arena at a show, because reality is every show is different, with different classes going on and different noises, events, atmosphere and outside disturbances that you can’t plan for.

There is always the run away loose horse, the wild lungeing or the inexperienced riders warming up getting in the way.

The best plan would be to try and take your horse out to as many different locations and practise loading and unloading, warming up and riding and returning home safely!  Safety is paramount.

If there is a show nearby, try attending the show and even riding around without competing to gain experience with the different noises and events.
There is no harm entering a show, warming up successfully and going home without competing to give the horse confidence.
Once you and your horse have attended,  warmed up and you feel confident enough to go into the arena, then ride your test with fun in mind.The first handful of shows are all to gain experience and confidence. It is very important that the horse learns it is not a stressful outing. The first times are to gain ring craft and experience in seeing judges cars, hearing bells, car horns and various noises.
It is also nerve racking for riders, so knowing you are going just for experience also takes the pressure off the rider.

Remember all horses and their riders had their “first show” once…! Good luck!


Joanna has written a collection of children’s books based on her horses over the years.

It has been published by award winning Candy Jar books and currently available in Waterstones and being read in schools. Click here to link to her website: She also has a dressage website which can be found at

For more advice from Joanna, why not visit her other blog posts here:


Do I need a dressage saddle to do dressage


How Can I make my Pony Stop Leaning on me?


Help My Dressage Circles are oval


What Age should I teach my horse flying changes?


How to turn a leg yield into a half pass


How can I teach my horse shoulder in?


How should I prepare for a dressage test?


Should I do Sitting Trot in My Dressage Test?


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