Everybody knows how the system is supposed to work. If there are four jumps in the warm-up ring, you find the person who goes four before you, and you wait on their jump. It is a system that has worked since the beginning of time.
So why, do people so frequently get in arguments about which jump should be for whom? Why do people scuttle frantically from jump to jump, asking everyone how many until they go, because they’re in three and they don’t have a jump?
Because people don’t respect the system, that’s why.
The warm-up ring is already a scary place. We need to treat each other with respect so it’s not any more painful than necessary. I’m asking everyone to come together and create a warm-up decorum to be followed by every rider, trainer, and groom.
1. Don't start jumping until you're four out.
Or three out. Or however many jumps there are. Don't tell your groom to fight for a middle jump. Don't try to claim one when you're seven away. Take the fence that is meant for you. If you have a special needs horse, and you truly need more warm-up fences than four rounds will allow, ask someone if you can pop over their's a few times. Most people are pretty accommodating. But otherwise, start jumping when you are four away like everyone else.
2. Don't lie about when you go.
Sometimes you'll go to every single jump, ask the people using it when they go, and three out of the four will tell you they are three away. Other times you might catch someone in a lie outright. Like if they tell you they're four away when that was how many out you were on the last call. Why does it have to be this way? Why can't we all just be honest with each other? If you're really five away, show some sympathy for that poor sod who is three away and can't start warming up because you've lied to keep your jump.
3. Don't pretend you don't understand me.
It doesn't matter what language you speak, if someone walks up to you while you hold a warm-up jump and asks a question, there's a 98% probability they want to know when you go. Just hold up fingers if we don't speak the same tongue. If it is more than four fingers, please give me your jump and wait your turn. Don't shrug and tell me in another language that you don't speak my language just to make me go away, that is very frustrating.
4. Just because you go before me doesn't mean this is your jump.
When I was seven away, I found the person who was in three and I have been waiting on their jump ever since. This is mine. In the name of all that is good and just, it belongs to me. Just because you waited around until you were two out doesn't mean you can just march in here and claim whatever fence you want. These people are in one and I am in five. Go find the people that have a jump they are not entitled to, and take theirs.
5. Don't get in fights.
A debate about jumps shouldn't result in a shouting fight. Someone needs to be the mature person here—ideally, the person in the wrong. But if you have to move down in the order to avoid a brawl, then do it. Or ask a steward to intervene. Trainers, I'm looking at you here. You should be the gold standard in warm-up ring etiquette.
If everyone gets on board with these guidelines I am confident that the warm-up ring will be a nicer place for everyone in the sport!
About the Author
When she’s not sharing hard-won #groomtruths, Brooke Nicholls works as a professional groom in Canada.