Horse Fitness: How to Prepare for Eventing

With the eventing season just around the corner 2019 it is important to understand your horse’s fitness. Your horse needs to be fit for the level that you are competing at so that you can perform competitively without any risk of any injuries.

A fitness programme should be developed over several weeks, enabling your horse’s body, and you, to adjust to the increase in workload. Like in humans, sudden increases in exercises can result in a damaged muscle and time off therefore exercise must be increased over time.

Like people, horses are individuals and the amount of time it takes the horse to be prepared for a competition will vary depending on the horses age, their current level of fitness, their competition history and if they are over coming any injuries.

The fitness programme can be split into 3 stages: –

  • Stage 1 – Slow work to build up muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • Stage 2 – Work to improve strength, stamina and fitness
  • Stage 3 – Fast work to prepare for cross-country

The following programme is based on a horse that is preparing for a competition at the lower levels of British Eventing, riding club events and pony club events

Week 1 20 minutes of walking roadwork
Week 2 30-40 minutes of roadwork
Week 3 1 hour of roadwork and hill work
Week 4 Hacking for up to 90 minutes a day including trot work
Week 5 Introduce some flat work in a sand school for up to 30 minutes – continue hacking
Week 6 Increase the flat work in the school and introduce some cantering out on hacks
Week 7 Build on the time you spend cantering, including hill work and introduce jumping in the school
Week 8 Continue level of work and introduce some fast work and interval training at the gallops, take your horse cross-country schooling and get your eye back in with some unaffiliated show jumping and dressage competitions.


Remember throughout training and competition, it is important for your horse to also have a day off during the week and to be turned out in the field wherever possible to stretch, relax and unwind.

Before starting a fitness programme with your horse, you need to ensure that your horse is in good general health. Check that their vaccinations are up to date, they have had the dentist, physio and farrier and are on a regular worming programme.

By following the fitness programme, you will be ready for a successful, safe and injury free season. Good luck and kick on!