William Fox-Pitt is one of the most successful event riders in history, with a record six Burghley titles to his name and 14 CCI5* wins. He has represented Britain at 19 senior championships, collecting multiple medals including seven European team golds. He has been British number one 11 times.
It’s a bright but blustery morning at Wood Lane Stables in Dorset, but the training intensity is hotting up. William Fox-Pitt’s top horses, Little Fire and Oratorio II, are both in the running for the Olympics and being geared up for early-season CCI5*s. For this session, William is riding Little Fire, with his assistant head groom Adam Short on Oratorio. Both horses step out from their stables in smart, navy exercise sheets, which they’ll keep on for the first 10 minutes.
Although these horses are at the pinnacle of the sport, William follows the same basic routine with all his horses at the start of any flatwork session.
“As a general rule, a rough guide would be that I break it up into three sections of 10 minutes: the warm-up, then suppling, followed by discipline and movements,” says William, adding that this is only a target time. “I’ll do this at home and at shows. I feel if they can’t do a test after that, they’re probably in the wrong job. Of course, at a big event, I might ride them earlier in the day as well, but the actual work before a test will be half an hour.