What To Know at an FEI Show: The Warm-Up

A successful warm-up is the key to a winning performance in the competition ring no matter what discipline. At the international level in a Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) show, there are particularities to be aware of when warming up. Being mindful of the specifics will ensure your warm-up goes smoothly and according to plan. For more information about regulations in the FEI stabling area, read part one of BarnManager’s What to Know at an FEI Show blog here.

10-Minute Area

For international dressage competitions, there is a 10-minute area, which is a designated space in the larger warm-up ring. This area serves as the last practice ring before entering the competition arena. Though riders are not required to use this space, there is only one athlete permitted in the 10-minute area at a time. This allows the next competing rider space to prepare any movements without the interference of other horses.

Order of Go

Since there is a set order of go, warm-up obstacles for cross-country and jumping are made available according to that list. If there are four warm-up jumps available, the next four riders to compete will be using those obstacles. When you are with the fifth horse in the order, you should plan to use the jump that the first horse is using once they are finished. An FEI steward in the warm-up area can help you if you are unsure of the order.

Jump Setting

The FEI stewards monitor show jumping and cross-country warm-ups. They ensure that all jumps being set are compliant with FEI rules. In all cases, obstacles being jumped must be marked with a white flag and a red flag. The red flag represents the right side of the obstacle, while the white flag represents the left side. The jump must be approached in the direction the flags indicate. If a rider wishes to approach the obstacle in the opposite direction, the flags must be changed with approval from the Chief FEI Steward.

In cross-country, the show’s organizers must provide jumps that can be knocked down as well as fixed obstacles to use to warm-up. Keep in mind that for the obstacles that can be knocked down, there are guidelines for how the poles must be used depending on the height and style of the jump.

Photo by Jump Media

Use of Extra Jumping Material and a Liverpool

In any FEI warm-up, you cannot cover the warm-up obstacles with extra materials like a scrim sheet, cooler, or towel. You also cannot bring any additional jumping materials to the warm-up. The show’s organizers must provide at least one liverpool that can be used if the athlete chooses.

If you are setting jumps for the warm-up and your rider would like to use the liverpool, be sure to keep an eye on it in the warm-up area. Typically, there are only one or two liverpools that are shared between all the riders. You’ll have to see when someone is finished using it before being able to use it yourself. Keep in mind other riders are warming up too. It’s also important to remember to pay attention to the other horses when you pass the warm-up fences. This is especially necessary when you are carrying a larger, spookier object like a liverpool.

Pre-Competition Boot Check

Both international eventing cross-country and show jumping competitions have pre-competition boot checks. Previously, riders could ask an FEI steward to conduct the boot check in the middle of the warm-up ring during their warm-up. Now, for safety reasons, the FEI steward(s) who are conducting the pre-competition boot check are located just outside the warm-up area or in a corner of the arena off to the side. Riders can still pause their warm-up routine to complete the boot check. However, it is important to note that doing so requires a little more planning since the horse likely needs to leave the ring to be checked before returning to finish their warm-up and head into the competition arena.

The FEI stewards conducting the boot check use walkie-talkies to communicate with the other FEI stewards in and around the warm-up. They keep track of everyone who completes the boot check by referencing the horse’s competition number. The competition number should be clearly displayed on the horse. It is helpful to also say the number aloud to the steward. In addition to checking all leg and footwear on the horse, the FEI steward will physically examine the competition hind boots to confirm they are compliant with the rules. They then will observe the groom or rider put the competition hind boots on the horse and fasten them to be sure this has been done correctly. Once the boot check has been completed, the boots cannot be changed or adjusted in any way without the supervision of an FEI steward.

Remember that every horse must complete the boot check. It is possible for multiple riders to want their horses checked at the same time. The boot check typically only lasts a few minutes. The FEI steward will try to prioritize horses depending on the order of go. Even still, having a plan for when you will complete your boot check is essential for a smooth, unrushed warm-up.

Special Cases

Some horses get nervous with a lot of horse traffic. If there is an additional warm-up area besides the one being generally used, the rider can ask an FEI steward for permission to use the other arena. An FEI steward must be available to monitor that warm-up area in order to make the request possible. A rider can also ask to go first in the class for a quieter warm-up experience for the horse. Any concessions made will be on a case-by-case basis and up to the Chief FEI Steward. What might be possible one time, might not be another.

Keeping track of the little nuances of the warm-up will help your competition preparation run smoothly. Make sure your whole team understands the plan and rules, so they are ready to execute their individual responsibilities. For more information about entering an FEI show, read BarnManager’s FEI Paperwork blogs with part one about horse passports here, part two regarding registrations and entries here, and part three pertaining to the check-in and jog here.

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!

What You Need To Know About Flying with Horses

While the concept of flying with horses is pretty straightforward, the specifics of how the horses get from one place to the other smoothly are less obvious. Understanding more about the process can help you be relaxed and prepared when the day comes. It is always essential to check with your veterinarian regarding any preventative measures or in-flight health concerns. While these are general guidelines, you will need to check with the appropriate authorities and companies for exact details.

Types of Flights

If your horse needs to go a long distance such as across the country, or from the U.S. to Europe, flying can actually be less stressful. There are two kinds of flights with horses. One is a cargo flight where the plane does not have passengers beyond the horse-affiliated personnel. The other is a commercial flight with a passenger cabin at the front and a cargo-style section for the horses in the back.

A horse in the container, on the plane, and ready to go.

Arranging a Flight

There are several flight companies to help you arrange and prepare for your horse’s trip. Unlike organizing human flights, you cannot always pick exactly which day you want your horses to fly. If you give the flight company an idea of when you would like to depart, they can help find a flight around that date. The flight companies also complete the necessary paperwork for the horses to travel and will inform you of any health documents and other details they might need to confirm the reservation. As with human flights, delays and cancellations are always possible, so the flight companies will keep you updated on timing.

At the Airport

There are different importation and exportation laws depending on which country you are coming from or going to. Generally, horses need to arrive at the designated airport at least several hours ahead of their scheduled flight. For this reason, these airports have stalls for the horses to wait in when they get off the trailer.

The horses can stay at the airport for a couple of days if they are laying over from a horse show or other type of outing, so it is helpful to prepare plastic baggies with grain meals. You can help keep your horse hydrated by including electrolytes and adding water to their feed. It’s also a good idea to feed smaller meals ahead of air travel to help minimize the risk of any digestive issues. Like preparing your horse for a long drive, a stomach and ulcer support supplement can help keep your horse comfortable for the trip.

Once your equipment is checked in by airport staff and loaded, you will not have access to it until it is released either directly after the flight or after the horse exits a required quarantine. Each horse gets a flight bag in which you can put anything they might need during the flight.

Getting On the Plane

A container with horses getting loaded onto the plane.

Horses travel on the plane in large containers. Picture being able to pick up a box stall and move it with a giant forklift. The containers can be divided into straight stalls to fit either two or three horses, similar to a trailer. The container has a space for the horses with a low wall separating them from a compartment in the front where hay, buckets, and the flight bags are stored. Water and hay are hung for the horses too.

Staff at the airport will guide you to walk your horse into their spot in the container. Some horses find the container intimidating especially if they are new to flying, so having a treat handy can help. When everything is set, the containers are driven to the plane and loaded one by one such that the containers form a grid in the plane with small walkways between them.

If you are on a commercial flight, the flight staff will then help you get to the normal airport check-in and through security. You will usually be able to board ahead of other passengers to make your way to the back of the plane. Where you might ordinarily be looking for a bathroom, there is a small door to access the horse containers. Once you have passed through the door, you can walk around to find the container with your horse inside.

The Flight

Regardless of what type of flight it is, there will always be at least one flight staff member with the containers at all times. Since there can be more than twenty horses on a flight, it is still a good idea to check on your horse every couple of hours during the trip. Keeping them hydrated throughout is always important. You can encourage your horse to drink by holding carrots for them in their water buckets. The horse will have to go through the water to get the carrot, so it can help them drink a little extra.

Take-off and landing are generally the most stressful parts of the flight, so it’s good to make sure your horse doesn’t have any trouble. Though regulations can vary between flights and flight companies, you can ask the flight staff to request permission from the pilot to allow you to be with the containers during take-off and landing. There are no seats in the containers, so you will need to try and secure yourself comfortably in the front part of the container amongst the hay and flight bags. Keep in mind, flights can always experience turbulence, so it is important to be cautious any time you are moving around the containers.

Prepared for takeoff!

Getting Off the Plane

On commercial flights, first you will have to deplane as usual and claim any checked baggage. Then you will be guided to the horse arrival area of the airport, where you can wait for the containers to be removed from the plane. Once the horses are unloaded from the containers, staff at the airport will check each horse in accordance with country regulations. Some countries require a quarantine while others do not. Be sure to confirm your arrival with any follow-up shippers, so you can get picked up on time and make it smoothly to your final destination.

In addition to simply transporting you and your horse from one place to another, the flight company staff is also responsible for ensuring the experience is safe and pleasant. Ask any questions you might have so you can feel confident every step of the way. You are now free to move about the cabin.

Have questions about utilizing BarnManager or want to give it a try for yourself? Request a live demo here!

BarnManager is designed to be a part of your team, with the compatibility and credentials necessary to improve communication, simplify the management of horses, and get you out of the office, off the phone calls, and into the barn with the horses you care about! Click here to get a free demo and find out more!