Getting Fit

As we’ve been gearing up for Coconino, Henry’s conditioning schedule has gotten more intense. Besides just needing to be fit enough for the addition of the roads and tracks and steeplechase phases of the N3D, he’s also running Training the first week. Another level up means faster speeds and longer courses. Add to that the complication of being at high altitude, a long trailer ride, and competing two weeks in a row – if anything I’d like for him to be overfit. It’s not a good feeling to be sitting on a tired event horse.


I never used to do much galloping on this horse. He’s a TB, fitness comes naturally to them, and Novice level isn’t exactly taxing. But this spring we’ve added in a gallop day, and stretched out the length of his long trot day. He’s up to 45 minute long trots (which is boring as shit, in case you’re wondering), and 3 sets of 5 minute gallops at about 400mpm. There are a lot of long walks involved too, and trot sets. We still have to bump up the gallop speed a bit over the next month to 450mpm, but otherwise he’s pretty close to where he needs to be.


Aside from his two conditioning rides a week, his regular rides have also gotten longer. Usually I’ll tack on a long marching walk to one of his dressage rides, or do some trot sets before we start dressage work. He doesn’t jump much, but when we do jump those rides always stay short.

still not tired

Holly Hill was his first real test since we’ve started upping the conditioning, and it was quite warm and very humid by the time we ran cross country. Typically those are his absolute worst conditions, where he struggles to get enough air and is generally just kind of flat and dull. That wasn’t the case this time though… he spent most of the course pulling my arms out, was barely breathing hard by the time we were done, and was totally cooled off by the time we got back to the barn. He was still chipper and happy and bright, more like he’d just gone for a jog to the mailbox rather than running 400mpm for 5 minutes. I still had a lot of horse left for stadium. Definitely plenty fit, not that that’s necessarily saying much at Novice.

His body has started to change too. He’s getting that lean but strong look of a real event horse. Luckily the fitness hasn’t seemed to affect his rideability much (knock on wood).


I, on the other hand, need to get my butt in gear. I’ve been doing a lot of this:

and it shows. So now that the days are getting longer I’m back on my bike to commute to/from work, and adding a couple of runs a week. The running makes me want to kill myself and everyone around me, but it must be done. I just have to keep repeating to myself “this is for Henny, this is for Henny, this is for Henny”. Anyone want to volunteer to run 20 feet in front of me with a pizza box? That would help a lot.


27 thoughts on “Getting Fit

  1. man, I feel ya. Reef is getting in better and better shape, but my shape is getting progressively rounder if you know what I mean :/ though instead of a pizza box ahead of me, I need a fishing pole with wine! lol


  2. I’m just a hunter/jumper rider, so we tend not to do conditioning like you eventers. This is really interesting to me, and sounds like a really great plan. (For you and Henry… not for my horses who murder me if they were this fit.)
    As for running… I hate it so much. But alas, I must do it because pizza. Totally get you there!


  3. Running is SO boring and doesn’t do much for you once you’re done. Thats why I like weightlifting…long after you’re done you’re still burning calories. Squats are good for everyone.


    1. As much as I hate running, I hated weightlifting even more lol. So freaking boring and too many people around. I need the cardio aspect. The solitude is a bonus.


      1. We are 100% different there. I can get my HR up just like I do with running but get that squat booty too haha. I LOVE working out with people and cannot do it alone, Thus crossfit gym


  4. I have to get P’s butt in gear because baby’s got weak stifles, but 45 minute trot sets sound brutal. I’m awaiting my barn’s purchase of adjoining land so I have other places to ride besides an arena full of 7 year olds, until then it’s zillions of 20m circles. Henry looks great! Very eventerish.


  5. I will run with the pizza box! No guarantees I won’t stuff the whole thing in my mouth though. Im doing the same getting into shape thing, not because I’m moving up any levels or divisions, but because I just plain feel bad that Chloe has to cart my more than ample bottom around several days a week. I need an accountability buddy. And also probably a pizza runner.


  6. Cross training for endurance kept Nilla in excellent shape last year. No amount of showing was even remotely comparable. This year, without my husband to ride with she’s been missing out on long rides and can now barely make it through a dressage lesson without being pooped.


  7. Henry looks great. Proud of you for getting yourself fit too! I think about doing that a lot. I occasionally think about it enough to do something. Not sure my methods are really working….


  8. I feel ya on the pizza! I had a whole one to myself last night hehe but it was a healthy one so not bad.. Running is great to keep your cardiovascular system conditioned for those long cross country rides. But don’t forget strength training! It not only gives you more strength but endurance too! I have some specifically for equestrians.. They’ve helped me a lot!


  9. Fingers cross Henry stays his normal self. Seeing pictures from the Rolex jogs, all I could think was that those animals are insanely fit, and they must feel like they are on crack all the time to feel the need to explode like that in hand from time to time. I like my horses fat and lazy thank you very much! Haha.


    1. All event horses are pretty fit, and while they can get a little “high”, for the most part they’re all fine. They do a pretty good job of getting through the dressage, anyway! It’s a matter of focusing the energy and raising the activity level to meet the fitness.


  10. I’ll eat the pizza for you. It is a sacrifice I will willingly make for you, because I am a giver.
    In all seriousness though, this is really cool- I’m with Stacie in hunter/jumper land where conditioning is something you do to your hair- so it’s for sure interesting to learn about and try to apply some stuff to my own rides.
    But in even more seriousness, I will eat the pizza.


  11. I commented at work one day that my biggest motivation for doing the turkey trot every year was the chocolate chip cheesecake my sister in law makes for Thanksgiving. One coworker was horrified “you run just so you can eat cheesecake!?”

    Is there other reasons to run than food??? So confused.


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