Southern Crosse Endurance Inc

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Anyone can do endurance riding

Anyone can do endurance riding

Training the endurance horse

The following articles are wrtitten by various endurance riders and trainers for your information. Training progarmmes will vary from one horse to another and pending time constraints and prior preparation of the horse as a youngster. For more individualised advise you can contact one of the SCEI members via posting on our BLOG.
For further detailed information follow the links via

Training for 40km endurance ride
The following information is a guide only, and based upon a 6- 8 week pre – ride programme for a horse that has had light to minimal ridden work in the prior months. 
A well conditioned horse who has been adequately legged up from 4years of age, could start such a programme after a turn out session, and enter into a 40km ride, with a basic plan to ride slow and steady at around 10-12kph.
Legging up is the process of preparation of an unfit horse to the strains of road and terrain work, with some dressage and trot pole work to assist muscle conditioning and flexibility. This takes 1-2years of slow work and flat work with also trotting poles. So most endurance horses would not enter their first 40k ride until almost 5yo.
An arena session may comprise as an  example, 10 minutes lunging warm up, 20minutes ridden trot poles and flat work, 5 minutes jumping and 10minute cool down.
On any given ride session a 5minute walk 5min slow jog warm up and then in reverse cool down is advisable.
Week 1  3 rides this week of no more than 5km each at a walk, on flat to undulating terrain, plus 1 arena session.
(feeding at this stage plenty of hay roughage, introduce an electrolyte and mineral vit mix and sue as recommended by the manufacturer)
Week 2  3 rides this week as above with the introduction of trot eg. 1km walk,  500m trot, 1km walk alternating. 1 arena session not ridden (lunge only)
(you may start to introduce a hard feed on work days – specific advice for your horse should be sought from a nutrition company and will depend on available grazing and horse body condition. A good source of information on feeding the endurance horse is available in  - An Introduction to Endurance – magazine vol 1-3)
Week 3  3 rides this week as above with an increase in trotting eg 1km walk, trot and short canter and cool down 1km walk at end.
(feeding as above, with slight increases in feed amount and daily feeds may start in wk 3-5 even on rest days pending horse condition and attitude)
Week 4  2 arena sessions and 2 rides of 7-10km walk and trot
Week 5  1 arena session 2 rides 10km and introduce some hills at a slow trot or walk and 1x15km ride
Week 6  1 arena/lunge session 2x 7km rides with mainly trot and canter and hill work slowly and 1x20km ride.
(plenty of roughage in the feed to load the hindgut and don’t make any changes now to your regular dietary plan. Some riders may load up with daily salt/electrolyte mix 2-3 days pre competition in week 7)
Week 7   2x7km rides 1x15km ride including some hills
Week 8    1 x light lunge , 2x5km easy rides  1x 40km endurance ride  1-2km walk day after ride
The hill terrain on an average endurance ride can be 180-400mtr over 1-3km. The ride may include 2-3 such hill climbs, occasional short steeper sections which you may need to dismount and walk up or down. The tracks are generally otherwise undulating, and varying under foot from soft grass verge, to sandy goat tracks, bitumen sections, and dirt road with some rocky patches.
Full conditioning of a horses muscle system and cardiovascular system occurs over years.
A training ride 40km or 60km, is just that,  part of your training schedule and  preparation, it is not a ride you aim to win or do at speed – to complete is to win.
Pacing a ride at training once basic ground work and legging up is performed over the first 12mths of a horses ridden life is important.
Average novice endurance ride speed is 9kph. You should aim to train your rides in the last 4 weeks of training schedule to a steady pace averaging 8-10kph, and up to 12kph for shorter rides. Most of this is trot work and extended trot with canter breaks and walking to warm up and cool down.
Good monitoring includes measuring heart rate recovery. At this level of riding a reasonably fit horse on a training ride should come back with a heart rate 60bpm or under and recover to resting heart rate within 30 minutes.