(Image from Horse and Hound)
With less than two weeks before cross-country day at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, you have to be fairly certain your horse has done enough work by now to be ready for the event. It is totally unadvisable to try and cram any extra fitness, jumping or schooling in the last days before you leave. Ideally you want your horse to be fresh-minded with no aching muscles to be tackling a course like Burghley (although this could ring true for any event).
We don’t see professional athletes over-training in the lead up to a big competition — they have done all the work required in the appropriate timescale. I feel our horses deserve to adhere to the same rules. There is something to be said for us riders to feel slightly underprepared but the horses must be raring to go. If we riders work on everything 110% in the final days, there is a risk the horses turn up over-done with a lack of enthusiasm. That absolutely doesn’t mean I won’t be cantering, schooling or jumping — I do all the above but not to excess.
My Burghley mount, Ali (Malin Head Clover), is a remarkable little horse who keeps his fitness extraordinarily well. He has been slowly working through a gallop scheme since mid-June and this happens strictly every four days (which is the optimum time frame between gallops to increase fitness).
Read the rest of the post at Horse and Hound