top of page


May 21st 2021

Let’s talk about training

Training is vital to ensure the soundness and well being of our animals as well as ensuring competitive success. Serrano (2002) conducted research into the fitness levels of 3DE horses competing at CCI***. Heart rates (HR) and blood lactates (BLa) were analysed from 13 elite event horses following intense exercise sessions (training) in the lead up to the event and during and after the XC.

Results were as follows:

  • Mean HR during exercise = 138bpm

  • Mean HR during competition = 195bpm

  • Mean Bla during exercise = 1 mmol/l

  • Mean Bla during competition = 10.2mmol/l


Of the horses studied only 1 horse was trained to similar physiological levels and as a result went onto be one of only 3 horses in the CCI*** to complete double clear, inside the time and be placed. The rest completed XC outside the optimum time and one was withdrawn.

These results show that many horses are not adequately trained to meet the requirements of competition. This is rather worrying as the prevalence of injury in sport horses is alarmingly high!


Horses should be trained at the same level they are required to compete at. Many riders (even the elite!) just do not ‘push’ their horses to the same limits at home as they expect in competition. This then leads to suboptimal competitive results and injuries.

It stands to reason then that if you want to succeed in your respective discipline then you must be training at the same level and intensity you expect form your horse in competition at the very least! You must condition your horse physiologically (and mentally) to cope with the demands of the discipline, whatever they may be.


It is not fair to expect a double clear and 20 something dressage test form a horse who largely spends most of its time hacking and gallops for 1min maximum in the field as a ‘yeehaa’.


Furthermore, you as a rider need to be aware of how your horse copes with the intensity of work required. 

So what do you do with your horses training?

Are you aware of the discipline demands from your horses point of view?

Do you have a plan that you follow and stick to in the build up to a competition?

Are you guilty of not pushing your horse at home and expecting great things in competition?

Achieve Peak Performance: News & Updates
bottom of page