BLOG No. 36. Are there any rules for stretching during the warm up in the FEI Ring?
As in any other sport, correct stretching of our horse is of the utmost importance for a good performance and for the on-going suppleness and health of our horses. There may be many ways to achieve this and riders must determine with their trainers what is the best technique to achieve it, but in any case, those methods of training must conform to the following principles:
- The first rule is very clear: “Deliberate extreme flexions of the neck involving either high, low or lateral head carriages, should only be performed for very short periods. If performed for longer periods the steward will intervene.” *
Obviously, the stewards, must take into consideration “each horse’s natural conformation, especially in relation to native breeds or ponies, and will therefore use discretion in determining this” *.
- “Movements which involve having the horse’s head and neck carriage in a sustained or fixed position should only be performed for periods not exceeding approximately ten minutes without change.” *
Therefore, the rider must “change” that sustained or fixed position every 1º minutes and change may mean:
- A period of relaxation and lengthening
- Stretching the head and the neck of the horse.
- It is the steward’s responsibility to ensure that riders respect the above procedure and intervene if required.
- No single neck position should be maintained which may lead to tiredness or stress.
- Stretching cannot be executed by force or aggressive means. Riders are “not permitted to use rough, or abrupt aids or apply constant unyielding pressure on the horse’s mouth through a fixed arm and hand position. It is the responsibility of the steward to intervene if these requirements are not respected.” *
*FEI Manual for Dressage Stewards – Annexes I-XIII Edition 2009 – Updated 18.08.2016.