Your horse’s fitness programme will depend on his type and your facilities. However, as a general rule, if you are stepping up from novice to CCI*:

  • Aim to have your horse ready 10 days before for the CCI* in case of delays, for example due to weather.
  • You will need to increase his canter work from about four to five weeks before this.
  • You should aim to be doing canter work every fourth day.
  • If you usually use short sprints uphill to get the horse fit, you should look at upping this from twice up the gallop to three times.
  • If you usually use longer, slower work over flatter ground, you should look at upping it from two 5min canters (with 3-4min walking in between) to two 7min canters.
  • A third fitness method is Fartlek, which involves building to a long period of non-stop cantering (up to 15min), but varying the speed within the pace.
  • A combination of these three methods can also be effective.
  • The key is knowing your horse so you can recognise if he is getting fitter or simply becoming stressed.
  • Don’t neglect your own fitness — riding one horse a day may not be enough if you are office-bound the rest of the time.

    For a three-day with roads and tracks and steeplechase, use the longer, slower forms of canter work. You will also need to hack your horse more, so he has 60-90min work every day.

    With thanks to British junior team coach Caroline Moore — find more on her website, link at www.horseandhound.co.uk/firstthreeday

    Read our full guide to tackling a three-day in this week’s eventing special issue of H&H (7 March), which includes an exclusive interview with Izzy Taylor and a guide to the kit you’ll need this season

    Read more about exercising your horse

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