A descriptive study quantifying warm-up patterns in elite and non-elite dressage horses in a field environment

C.A. Tranquille, J. Clarke, V.A. Walker, R.C. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


There is very little reported information on the content of the warm-up period in dressage horses. Our objective was to quantify warm-up content, patterns and duration in a simulated competition (field) environment in British dressage horses. Twelve elite (Group A) and 20 non-elite (Group B) mixed-breed dressage horses, all ridden by advanced level riders, were assessed. Riders warmed-up as they would normally for a competition prior to completing a test. The warm-up was videoed and assessed retrospectively. Total duration, time spent in the different paces, and on which rein, was recorded, along with information on which movements were performed, and the head and neck position. Appropriate statistical tests were used to compare variables between groups. Mean warm-up duration, time in walk and trot did not differ between groups, however Group A horses spent significantly more time in canter than Group B horses (P=0.0024). Group A horses also spent significantly more time in collected and extended paces, and performing advanced movements than Group B horses (P≤0.0421 for all variables). There was no difference in time spent on the left and right rein in either group. Results provide novel information on the warm-up content in a competition (field) environment for dressage horses. The findings indicate that that the content of the warm-up of elite and non-elite dressage horses was significantly different, with elite horses warming up for longer, spending more time in canter, performing more changes within paces and advanced movements. Dressage horses appear to warm-up more symmetrically than has been reported in jumping horses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalComparative Exercise Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


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