Eric Carle Animal Warm Ups

Here is an idea to make warm ups for therapeutic horseback riding lessons more interesting, and to incorporate some visual and reading aspects. Use pages from a children’s book! We just acquired this book for bedtime stories and I thought it would be perfect for warm ups and wanted to share!

Eric Carle Animal Warm Ups

Set up:

  • Get the book “Head to Toe” by Eric Carle and copy the pages that would work best as warm ups for the skill you will be teaching in your lesson. Or use the images I shared below. Laminate them.
  • Attach the pictures to the arena wall or on upright poles, two at one end of the arena and two at the other.

Warm up activity:

  • Instruct the students to halt their horse at the end of the arena in front of one of the pictures. Read it with their team. Then perform the warm up for the next long wall of the arena. Continue until all the warm up activities are done.
  • Reverse directions and do the same the other direction.


  • I chose to put the pictures at the end of the arena because I’d prefer the riders practice the warm up activity on the long straight sides of the arena.
  • For riders who have a hard time balancing and may have difficulty stopping and starting on the curve, bring the pictures away from the wall  so the riders can turn straight across the arena to get to the picture and therefore stop and start on a straight line.
  • You can have the riders do the warm up activity for more than one wall, or for a whole lap, depending on their riding skills.
  • You can have everyone do these warm ups before mounting to get them used to the movement and having fun, using the same pictures to introduce the concept.
  • You can cross out words and add others that relate more to your riding skill, like for the monkey cross out “wave” and write in “circle” to do arm circles, or for the camel write in “I can stand up on my feet” for 2 point.
  • I think this warm up activity would be great for a group, so you can give the riders something to do with their volunteer team right away once they’re mounted while the rest of the group mounts.


(If you use this, LMK how it goes and send pics!)


Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement! If you would like to contribute an activity or article, please contact me here, I would love to hear from you!

2 thoughts on “Eric Carle Animal Warm Ups

  1. Wow this is a great idea! It can make riding more fun for those that need things more interactive. I appreciate your posting and sharing this with us! I am going to try it out with my next lesson. I may also try other children’s books. Thanks for the cool idea!

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