PonyApp ProTip: Karen Polle Talks Show Ring Prep

Posted by Lucy Davis on

Making sure your horse is ready for the competition arena is one of the most important management skills a rider can learn. A proper warm-up increases your chances for success in the arena while also contributing to the welfare and longevity of your horse. Winning with healthy horses is obviously the dream, so take this Pro Tip to heart!

PonyApp checked in with one of their favorite young professionals, Karen Polle, who's been riding her 15-year-old Grand Prix partner, With Wings, for 7 years now. The 25 year-old Japanese rider, who is Japan's hope for a Tokyo 2020 Olympic medal in Show Jumping, shares her competition-day preparation with us:

PA: Hi Karen! So, every rider has their own plan for preparing their horses on a show day…what’s yours?
KP: Hi!! I usually flat and hand-walk my horses before I show.

PA:  What’s the benefit of flatting your horse before competing?
KP:  I flat [my horses] so they get an opportunity to stretch and loosen up their
muscles before showing, and also so that I can make sure they are listening really
well to my aids. And if they're fresh, the horses can let some of their extra energy
out.

PA: How long before the class do you usually work your horse?
KP:  I usually ride in the morning, a couple hours before the class, so my horses can relax in their stalls before going to the ring.

PA:  And for the hand-walking, how often during the day do you get the horses out?
KP:  We hand-walk my horses a lot at the show so they aren't stuck in their stalls too much, which is good for them both physically and mentally.

PA: When you’re warming up for a big class, what kind of jump do you normally like to start with?
KP: I usually start with a vertical to give the horses a chance to warm up before jumping an oxer.

PA: Your horse With Wings is known for his spinning and antics in the warm-up. Has it ever really messed you up in the warm-up ring? How do you keep your focus?
KP: Wings' antics don't bother me at all, I think they're funny and they make me smile before the class, which is a good thing! And actually when he bucks and spins a little bit, that's how I know he's ready.

PA: We’ve noticed that when showing With Wings you always have to get off before entering the show arena, and then get on again inside. How long have you been mounting in the arena like this?
KP: I can't even remember when I started getting on in the ring, it must have been at least 3 years ago or more.

Thanks for the ProTip Karen!!

(Anything you want to ask a professional? Send your questions to info@equineerapp.com. Tell us who you'd like to learn from and we'll answer with more ProTips!)

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