Eventing Conditioning

Will Faudree Pfun

Fitness Fundamentals for Event Horses

Tips and essentials for optimizing your event horse’s fitness—and your own!

Modern scientific research has described the galloping position we should use cross country. I like the feeling of poise and focus that Sharon White and ?Inspiration (Bounce) give me in this photo. Bounce is secretly taking a bit of a grip on the reins, and Sharon has closed her hands against the neck to stabilize her speed. Notice she is using her hands against the neck to control her horse, rather than to control her upper body. In a perfect world, I would like Sharon's seat a little closer to the saddle, with her knee bent a little more. From this ?position, Sharon's weight will correctly rise and sink into her knees and ankles. This position absorbs the shock of galloping and reduces Bounce's workload. Besides being scientifically flawed, standing straight-legged in the stirrups at the gallop is unstable and potentially dangerous.

Design a Horse Fitness Plan for Eventing

Help your horse feel as good at the end of cross country as he does at the beginning with a solid horse fitness plan.

Before beginning your conditioning canter sets, you want your horse soft and relaxed. Horses who are tense when conditioned take too much out of themselves and are more susceptible to injury. Margaret Rizzo and Hooper are obviously organized and ready for some serious work. They radiate confidence and softness, exactly the frame of mind I want them in before they start cantering. Note the cross-country vest, and the galloping boots on all four of Hooper's legs. Also very important, notice the lack of a cell phone or iPod. You should not have anything with you that would interfere with your concentration on your horse or block your ability to listen to his breathing and hear the rhythm of his footfalls. Your horse's fitness is his best defense against injury during both training and competition, and he needs your full and undivided attention while he is conditioning.

The Eventing FAQs of the Matter

Some eventing questions come up more frequently than others at Jim Wofford's clinics.