Riding can be damn exhausting – and not only for the rider himself but also for the animal. It is therefore important not to overwhelm your horse, but to train your own endurance and that of the horse on a regular basis. Endurance horses in particular are required to perform tremendously, which is why endurance training is particularly demanding for endurance horses. Your training takes years until you are able to cover distances from 40 to well over 100 kilometers without any health risks.
At the beginning of your training, you should think about what you want to achieve. Do you wish to improve the basic fitness of your horse or should your horse be ridden over a long distance? Set a goal to which you will adapt your training steps. Building stamina takes time and routine. The muscles of your animal are more stressed so that bones, tendons, and joints also need time to adapt to the stimulated muscle growth. Their growth phase is longer than that of the muscles, so increases should be slow so that the whole body can cope with the change.
The Endurance Training for Distance Horses
Once you have set your goal, you should develop a routine for everyday life. Exercise about three to five times a week to work consistently on endurance. You should vary the intensity and plan light training days so as not to overwhelm your training partner or to take away the pleasure of spending time together.
If you are preparing your horse for an endurance ride, start with a walk of around eight to nine kilometers, around three times a week. Only when it works in a relaxed manner, after perhaps a total of 50 to 60 kilometers, can you start to trot slowly or to correct the distance upwards. If you finally work ten kilometers in a row with the inclusion of a trot, you can increase the distance further, but stay at the same pace. You should only increase the speed after about half a year. First, the endurance is trained and improved, then the pace.
Whenever you perceive a negative physical reaction from your horse, such as lameness, sore muscles, or lack of desire, this is a sign for you that the last training session was overwhelming for your training partner. Now it’s time to shift down a gear and slow down.
If you don’t want to do an endurance ride with your four-legged friend, but simply go fitter to everyday training or maybe aim for a tournament, you still proceed in a very similar way. You increase very slowly but continuously. Think about where you stand as a team, what can you do without any problems and where do you want to go? How many minutes is the air out? Make a weekly schedule and make sure that you manage to move your horse at least three times a week so that the training breaks don’t become too long. Lungeing and long rides are wonderful changes to keep on the ball with fun and motivation. Because the joy of sport should always remain in the foreground and not step behind the ambition.
It is important that you do not train every day, but also plan one to three rest days a week to give the animal the opportunity to regenerate. Every strenuous day of training also means minimal muscle injuries, including tendons and ligaments. So see the breaks as a kind of repair time for the body and the many individual cells. Your horse’s body needs these days to recover on its own and be strengthened for the next unit.
By the way, the feed also plays a major role, because the animal can only perform well if it also draws energy from the feed. So make sure you have a healthy, balanced feed in order to create the best conditions for successful endurance training for distance horses.