Category: Show Preparation

The Road to the Derby: Spin Exercises

King of the Coast (Sleipner LLC) and Daphne Thompson show a great exercise to work on the spin: side pass the box in order to keep your horse’s shoulders up.


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Don’t Waste Your Money

Part 3

“Practice Makes Perfect”12825133_10153414951093316_1434809981_n Photo Credit: Mark Blakley


I approach the lead change in two way depending on my horse. Sometimes I will counter canter both ways to really combat his anticipation. Also, when loping through the center of my circle, I will ask him to get straight and will even set him up for a change but then will continue on my same circle. Secondly, I will sometimes change in the middle then continue in the same direction on the counter lead. I don’t avoid changing as I think the lead change then can become the forbidden fruit and therefore a bigger deal than it has to be. I change often and will do so most of the time in my warmups – it helps the seasoned horse think he might be showing and it help the change become common place for the young horse.

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Don’t Waste Your Money

Part Two

“Nail your paid warmup”

IMG_3522 Photo Credit: Mark Blakley


Horses learn through repetition, so the more we show them, the more they begin to anticipate maneuvers. To combat this anticipation, try to stay focused on what your horse is thinking and do the opposite. An easy example is counter cantering through the middle. A lot of show horses can become too “hair trigger” about the lead change in the middle to hold them off with the inside leg and only allow them to change when they’re not anticipating the change. Another example would be asking them to slow down in a fast circle in different spots other then the middle. Keep them thinking about you.

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Don’t Waste Your Money

Part One

Get The Most Out Of Your Paid Warmup

IMG_5379 Photo Credit: Mark Blakley


The biggest bang you will ever get for your buck at a horse show is the five minutes alone with your horse in the show arena. Today’s reiner is sophisticated, and, assuming you show reiners, I expect that you’ve probably spent time doing warmups. Let’s make sure you get the most out of your time in the arena.




It’s very important that your horse believes that he is showing. Take the time to ready him in more or less the same way you would if you were actually competing. Lope him down; do prep for stops and turns; trot him into his face, etc. Some older horses become so wise to the warm-up plan, I even throw chaps on and have someone groom him at the back gate and remove the nose band so I can fool my steed into thinking he’s actually showing. If possible, I try to get a person to sit in the judge’s chair. Horses learn through repetition and many problems they develop are unique to the show pen and can only be fixed in a show pen environment – it’s your job to accurately recreate that when you pay for a warm up.

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