Physical preparation of the eventing horse for the competitive season

While the eventing season has just resumed, Marie-Charlotte Fuss, double winner of the European Championships for Young Riders with her amazing Sillas de la Née, shares her experience with us and gives up her secrets in terms of physical training.

Actually, eventing is a demanding discipline that requires an appropriate in-depth work and physical condition.

1. When do you start preparing your horses for the competitive season?

"I try to keep them fit a big part of the winter, I do not totally stop working them, then they slowly start galloping again at the beginning of the year."

2. How do you organize the training of your different horses during this preparation?

“On average, they gallop every two weeks. The rest of the work is divided between work on the flat, jumping sessions and trotting/lunging sessions. They have a day off on Sunday. Hakuna, my 5 year old mare, does not gallop because it is not necessary yet.”

3. Do you focus on one discipline in particular?

"I put a lot of emphasis on dressage. They do not jump very often, once a week that's enough. I also work a lot on the physical condition through galloping and trotting sessions. I adapt the spacing and intensity of the sessions according to the objectives I set myself."
Photo© Nicolas Hodys

4. What are you looking for from your horse?

"During gallops, I try to get them as relaxed as possible, which is not always easy because they are often very happy to go galloping!"

5. What is the recovery share in this preparation? What do you favor for a good recovery?

“After a gallop, they do a small trotting session the next day and they resume normal work two days later. For recovery, we recommend active recovery: they trot for a long time as relaxed as possible and then we bring them to the ford to cool the limbs down and to have fun!”

6. In addition to this physical preparation, do you work on the mind of your horses? If yes, how?

"I try to pay attention to it! It is important for me that they look forward to going to work. When I have time, I like to let them free to roam in the lunging ring so they play a little. On top of that, they regularly go outside and to the paddock so on the whole I think they are pretty happy (well I hope so ☺ )."

7. What must be avoided during this run-up?

“Do not “overtrain” them, keep in mind that this is the beginning of the season so as not to put them off before even starting the competitions.”
Photo© Nicolas Hodys

8. Are there rules to follow before and after an intense effort?

"It is necessary to stop the food a few hours before the effort and to warm the horse up well so that he leaves for work in good conditions.
In competition, in the case of large events, we take the heart rate on arrival, then we cool them down, and they walk until the vet agrees.
Then each one has his own method. Mine are showered and then we put the limbs in the ice for 30 minutes. We repeat the operation twice then for the night, we apply clay and strips. We check that the horse has enough water available and that he has a normal behavior.”
Horse heart rate while training

9. How do you prepare yourself? Do you practice other sports apart from riding to prepare yourself physically?

“I have the opportunity to perform within the Livio Stable, which organizes a two-hour weekly session with a sports coach in which I participate. On top of that, I have a rowing machine at home that I use twice a week and I run on Sunday mornings when I do not compete.”

10. How will the Seaver girth be useful during this preparatory phase?

“The Seaver girth will help me track my horses’ performances while training. I will have precise information on the intensity of the effort that I ask for and I could thus adapt the training."

11. One last advice?

“Always be attentive to your horse so as not to “overtrain” him and have a horse in great shape on D day!”
Photo© Nicolas Hodys
The Seaver team

* A big thank you to our amazing amabassador, Marie-Charlotte, for this article ☺

29 March 2017