Video: Warm Up Your Horse for a Winning Course

Olympic show-jumper Laura Kraut shares her tried-and-true strategies for loosening up your horse before going into the show ring.

Knowing your horse–his stride length, his scope, his spookiness level–was one of the main themes of Laura Kraut’s lessons with eight riders on the third day of the 2009 George Morris Horsemastership Training Session in January. George had asked Laura to review course strategy with the riders.

Laura Kraut walks the course with (from left): Jacqueline Lubrano, Taylor Land, Chelsea Moss and Sophie Benjamin. | Photo by Sandra Oliynyk

“In the warm-up, George stresses not jumping a lot, not wasting your horse,” Laura said. “You come to the horse show prepared. So when you warm up, you loosen your horse up over eight to ten jumps, then go in the ring.”

Based on that strategy, Laura said her typical warm-up consists of jumping:

  • a crossrail off both leads to loosen the horse’s muscles.
  • a vertical off both leads to get the horse thinking about jumping up.
  • an oxer off both leads to get the horse thinking about jumping wide.
  • a bigger, narrower oxer so the horse is jumping a higher width, or a specific type of fence, such as a Liverpool, so the horse isn’t surprised by it on course.
  • a vertical the size of the biggest fence on course, so the horse gets a feel for how big he’ll be jumping.

In this video clip from the training session, Laura shows you how she warms up the riders and horses for jumping a course.

Video and editing by

To read more about Laura Kraut’s system for riding a solid course, see “Course-Savvy Strategies” in the June 2009 issue of Practical Horseman.
Cartoon image of a girl brushing her horse.
Celebrate 50 Years of Grooming Excellence with ShowSheen® 
Kelly Soleau-Millar
Young Horses with Kelly Soleau-Millar
Jonathon Millar
Position Exercises with Jonathon Millar
Nonverbal Cues with Amy Millar