How to use hills to improve your horse's fitness

Use hills to your advantage when building your horse's fitness

Use hills to your advantage when building your horse's fitness

Hill work is a fantastic way to develop your horse's fitness, by building his muscles and strength.

Follow these tips from endurance rider Beccy Broughton Booker to make the most out of hill work with your horse. 

Why train horses on a hill?

Hill work means you can train with low impact and high intensity.

Increasing the gradient ups your horse's energy output, but bear in mind that the more impulsion you create as you go uphill, the more stress there is through his hind limbs.

Hill work will also develop your horse's hindquarters and shoulder muscles and can improve his topline. 

How to make the most of hill work with your horse 

  1. Your horse must be suitably warmed up before tackling steep climbs or upping the pace, in the same way a human athlete shouldn't run straight of their house up a steep hill.
     
  2. To begin with, use your common sense and be guided by your horse.

    If he's panting hard, you've done too much, too soon, so take note pop his respiration, and bear in mind that walking uphill, in balance, is as valuable as doing fast work up hills. 

    Slow work also lessens the likelihood of injury to your horse's tendons and ligaments. 
     
  3. When riding uphill in trot, it's a good idea to occasionally allow your horse to stretch forward and reach into his stride as he works through from behind.
     
  4. Ride in a light, balanced seat going uphill to help your horse use his back.
     
  5. Introduce transitions as you're going up and down hill, as these will help to improve your horse's balance.