Getting Fit

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Before you send in your entry forms you have to get your horse, and yourself fit. Get out there now and get your horse fit so that when the show season rolls around, your horse and you will be in condition to compete.

Depending on your discipline, it will take 8-10 weeks to get your horse fit. If you are considering a summer of evcnting your horse will require a fitness level more significant than your average pleasure horse. Jumpers, hunters and dressage also have to be conditioned so that horses can be competitive at their respected levels. Being leaner and well conditioned will present a horse at its best to perform the requirements of the competition. Riding an unfit horse can lead to a sore horse and possible injury.

Getting a horse to a desired fitness level requires a plan and the commitment to achieve jumping, gymnastic, horse training schedule, horse fitness, fitness schedule
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Example of a Fitness Programme

  • Week 1 –
    If your horse is totally unfit, had the winter off or recovering from injury, begin slowly and develop the horse from the inside. This includes regular balanced feed, vet care, shoeing and riding. Ease into the riding regime. begin with slow work, walking 20 minutes per day and gradually increase untill you  are walking 45 minutes to 1 hour. This allows the horses muscles, lungs, bones, skin and brain to develop.
  • Week 2 –
    Continuing to develop the horse in a gradual fashion will promote strong muscle development and promote a relationship between horse and rider.
    If you are starting a horse from scratch or from an injury these rides should include straight lines rather than small circles and lunging.
    Introduce 5 minutes of trotting. with 10 minutes of rest.
  • Week 3 –
    Increase the length of time trotting in a gradual fashion.
    Introduce flatwork and large (20 metre) circles.
  • Week 4 –
    Hacking out 2 times per week
    Introduce canter
    Flat work 2 times per week
    Introduce trot rails and small gymnastics

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  • Week 5 –
    Hacking out for 1 hour 2 times per week (1 -11/2 hours per ride)
    Flat work 2 times per week
    Gymnastics 1 – 2 times per week
  • Week 6 –
    Consider entering flat division at a local show or dressage show
    get your horse off the property
  • Week 7 –
    Flat work 2 times per week with more emphasis on lateral work and transitions
    hacking 2 times per week with emphasis on more trotting and cantering work
    Gymnastic jumping 2 times per week and small courses
  • Week 8 –
    By now your horse should be fitter and able to perform discipline specific exercises.
    It is possible to enter Show Jumping, hunter and dressage shows at this level of fitness. Eventing competitions at the lower levels are satisfied at this level but more fitness is required for eventing and horse trials.


  • Highlight on your calendar when veterinary care (vaccinations, worming, dentistry), farrier, memberships and entry forms are due.Horse schedule, fitness schedule, horse training schedule
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  • If you are working full time and find it difficult to prepare your horse and get it fit, consider placing an ad at
    your stable or on line horse sites for a student or helper to help get your horse fit. There are often people who will be willing to help out with lunging, road work and general riding.
  • Include hills and interesting routes when hacking to keep things fresh and enjoyable for your horse.
  • Start saving your hard earned $$ for your entry to shows and for gas money.

If you have other things you want to add please send me an email. Ill be happy to add it.

About Laura

Laura Kelland-May is the founder of Thistle Ridge Skill Builders Development Program. She more than trains horses, she trains people to train their horses. In addition she is a Sr. Judge and can offer insight into What the Judge Is Looking For. Follow her here and get more tips.
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