Part 1 - How to Write a fitness plan
When I build a fitness plan for a horse and rider I have to take into consideration a lot of variables. These range from goal setting (there will be another post on this) to ability and capabilities. Each plan that I write is specifically tailored to each individual partnership. For example a fitness plan aimed at a partnership wanting to compete over BE100 would be very different to that of someone looking at a 15k endurance ride.
Before starting this journey it's definitely worth getting a full working check up of you and your horse from your professionals (so vet, farrier, physio, dentist, saddle fitter etc.) This way you can at the very least begin your fitness journey with your eyes open and tailor work to the limitations of you and your horse and hopefully at the most have a clean bill of health to set your mind at rest. Fitness should be worked on very gradually. Think about it – you wouldn’t go and run a 10k with no training or at least starting off over smaller distances, so we can’t ask our horses to do the same. There are no shortcuts to fitness (thanks Coach T) and pushing too fast too soon is an easy way to pick up an injury. Remember “Shortcuts make for long delays.”
The gradual aspect of improving fitness over time allows both the horse and the rider to adjust to new work loads whilst incurring minimal strain. With this in mind my plans tend to roughly follow a Six Phase (five phases plus competition preparation) format. They take into consideration the following:
These areas let us know where any limitations might be, and also how easy it’s going to be for a horse and rider to get to the level of fitness they wish to achieve. A horse and rider that have competed or been at a high fitness level will regain that much quicker than a partnership trying to gain that fitness for the first time.
Next week will be an example of what fitness plan from me may look like - stay tuned for more!
In the meantime feel free to contact us for a friendly chat if you have any behavioural issues or want me to build you your very own personalised plan.