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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