From: Horse Care
Fitness And Exercise
A certain level of fitness is required by horses in order to successfully compete in any discipline. This means that the horse should be healthy and sound and able to participate in the sport without distress as a result of the correct exercise and nutrition.
There are many ways of monitoring fitness such as taking the horses temperature, pulse and respiration before, during and after exercise and monitoring the recovery rate. You can also use a set distance to work out how fast your horse is traveling in order to gauge whether they are fit for competition over that distance.
Ways Of Getting Fit
Using roadwork and hill work are important for the early stages of fitness to help strengthen the limbs especially the tendons and then specific work focusing on that discipline for example Dressage or Show jump training, followed by interval training or gallops over a set distance.
Fitness For Different Disciplines
The sport in which you wish to participate will dictate how fit and what type of fitness program you should use. Horses getting fit for Endurance riding will need to be able to cover many miles whereas an event horse will need to be fit enough to cope with Dressage, Show Jumping and Cross country.
Once a horse has reached peak fitness they are usually in the competition season and the competitions will help to maintain and monitor the levels of fitness along with the fittenning program carrying on during this time. Careful attention needs to be taken with regards to fitness as a horse who is struggling to do the task asked of them will not be able to perform to their best, and this can potentially damage their health.