Training Your Event Horse

Getting fit for eventing can be difficult for not just the rider, but the horse to. Mastering a plan to get your horse fit enough to endure the challenging three phases of this equestrian sport can be quite stressful, especially when your new to the eventing life style. Whether you lease or own, there’s always more to learn about improving your training plan.

For the part timer:

If your only out three or four days a week it can be difficult to get your horse fit enough for eventing. But working out a plan so your horse builds up the muscle needed to excel in this sport will leave you less aggravated when it’s competition time. The first day you’re at the barn for the week you can hack out and still be engaged by adding in conditioning sets. To start you should only do short amounts of time while gradually building up the intensity. The first conditioning day you do should consist of something like this example: 10 minutes walk, 7 minutes trot, 2 minutes canter, then 7 minutes trot, and 10 minutes walk. It’s formatted this way so your equine partners heart rate will increase slowly then decrease slowly, putting less stress on the heart. The next day that you’re at the barn, work on dressage. Find a dressage test that’s slightly to advanced for you and your horse and break it down. Look at the directives and movements of the test and slowly piece it together. This will keep your horse from getting over whelmed while keeping your training sessions down to a reasonable amount of time. On the third day that you’re out, focus on show jumping. Work on different exercises such as two jumps on a figure eight, a serpentine pattern, etc.


For the full timer: 

If your able to be with your horse every day, your extremely lucky. It creates a stronger bond but also gives you more time to improve your skill set. If riding six days a week is possible, you’ll shape your horse into a passionate eventer in no time. As an example, start your week on Monday. Make the first day of the week primarily dressage oriented. As suggested above, find a test that put together is to much for you and your horse. Split the test up so your working fundamentally on the directives and specific movements given. On the second day of the week, introduce conditioning sets to help your horse excel in the cross country phase (ex: 10 minutes walk, 7 minutes trot, 2 minutes canter, then 7 minutes trot, and 10 minutes walk). Make the third day of the week all about show jumping. In order to keep your horse willing and eager towards fences, change up your exercises regularly. Some considerable training patterns could be: lay down two poles 58 feet apart then add three poles in a fan motion. You can keep them as poles or raise them up to be jumps, teaching your horse to be responsive to your aids when being directed towards a jump. Another effective exercise is using a serpentine pattern but adding jumps to it. Space the jumps 30 to 40 feet apart on a straight line. Make sure to build up your height slowly as this workout is a tough one for both horse and rider. One of my favorite exercises is finding a good spot to set up a pretty large circle. Your circle should 70 to 80 feet in diameter with four jumps splitting it into quarters. Again, make building up your height a slow process as this exercise is ambitious and a true work out. The fourth day of the week should be conditioning sets again. Do the same thing you did the first time you did conditioning sets, only advance your intervals every week or every other week, it just depends on your horse and their fitness levels. Day five should be  another dressage day. Follow relatively the same format but make sure that your not repeating all the same exercises. Keep it interesting! On the sixth day, show jump again but work on more course type work while still keeping the session intriguing for you and your horse.


On the last day of the week or day seven, just chill with your horse. Make room for enjoyable bonding time whether it be going on a walk with your equine partner or just spending some quality grooming time. If your horse enjoys it, hopefully you will to.

DISCLAIMER: I am no professional. This article is just my amateur point of view on how I’ve developed my own eventer. I do not claim to be a top notch trainer, just a low level eventer that’s finding their way with a temperamental OTTB in the equestrian sport of eventing. All the pictures used in this article are my own personal works and I took them all. Please do not use them without credit or permission.



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