‘Crossfit’ for endurance horses – Part 2

Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 - Normandy, France.Part 1 looked at an introduction into fitness for endurance horses. We looked at the value that dressage has on the overall schooling of an endurance horse. Part 2 looks at pole work and jumping.

Pole work and lateral work

It may seem unusual to couple pole work and lateral work together, but we do so because they often target the same muscle groups or joints and add an interesting factor to your training to keep your horse mentally involved and motivated. Lateral work such as leg yield, shoulder-in and travers all promote responsiveness to the aids, suppleness through the body and strengthening of the inside hind leg.

Pole work ridden correctly targets the lumbar-sacral area, hips, stifles, hocks and fetlocks as well as the back and shoulders. Pole work also teaches co-ordination, rhythm, balance and suppleness and it improves your horse’s ability to focus and concentrate on the task at hand.

30726516_lHill work and jumping

Hill work and jumping (small fences) all assist in the development of hind leg strength in a way that is different to how an endurance horse on a long ride will use himself. Pelvic tuck is seen in dressage horses at collection and showjumpers at take-off. It is very important that endurance horses learn to use their backs correctly to avoid repetitive strain injuries and injuries through being overly fatigued.


We specifically don’t mention lunging in this article as so many endurance horses spend hours on the lunge every day to get them fit, while their riders work hard to earn enough to pay the bills! The only time lunging should be used in cross-training is as a remedial programme to specifically work problem areas without the hindrance of a rider on top. It should be done with a full understanding of the horse’s anatomy and use of the body, the lunging surface and its implications, and the training aid used.

Text: Mandy Schroder

The full article appears in the April issue of HQ.