A heart at 96% capacity: how fit do you need to be to ride across country? *H&H Plus*

  • How fit do you need to be to ride cross-country? Sport scientist Rosa Dakin tackles this question and what you can do to prepare yourself for the challenge

    Interest in rider fitness has grown over the past few years as riders become more aware of the importance of physical preparation out of the saddle to enhance performance in it. But what does rider fitness mean when it comes to the most physically demanding phase of eventing, cross-country?

    Whether cross-country schooling or competing at the highest level, a series of physical events are triggered in the body when riding across country, similar to those that happen when cycling or running. These responses clearly indicate that riders, whether they recognise it or not, are athletes.

    Riders must control their bodies by contracting muscle groups, such as those in their core, shifting their bodyweight in response to the horse’s movement to ensure they remain in balance. They must also make constant cognitive decisions.

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