Caring for the eventing horse: Fitness


_2R_0978Fitness is the core element of an event horse; when a horse is fit, the risk of injury is lower. A fit horse has the distinct advantage of managing physical and mental challenges with ease.

There are no shortcuts in a fitness programme. It is something that should be established over a period of time.

Several factors need to be taken into consideration when creating a fitness programme:

  • Your horse’s age
  • How fit your horse is to start with
  • A horse who has had time off from an injury
  • How fit the horse has been

Basic programme

Stage 1:

Hacking out for 30 minutes for the first few days, preferably on a hard surface, and building it up to one hour by the end of the second week.

Stage 2:

From week 4 to week 5, build up periods of trotting uphill and introduce canter work in the school. In week 5, you can introduce flatwork.

Stage 3:

From week 8 onwards, start heading to a few small shows. For the more advanced horses, this is when we start doing fast work for at least another 6 weeks.


Correct nutrition plays a huge role in the overall wellbeing of any sport horse, as a horse cannot physically develop or perform without the right diet. An event horse’s energy can be obtained from fibre, starch and oil. One needs to be aware of maintaining condition of a fit horse.

Text: Hayley Parker. Photography: Courtesy of Hayley Parker

The full article appears in the March 2015 issue (97) of HQ.