A recent study in collaboration with Sweden, Switzerland and Holland, has been carried out to describe and compare training strategies in elite show jumping horses. Between 5 and 20 elite show jumping riders from each country were recruited and completed training diaries for 6 consecutive months where information on time trained, perceived work intensity and activity undertaken (for example flatwork, jump training, fitness work and lunging), as well as information on horse walker usage, turnout and rest days was recorded. Information on horse characteristics (age, gender and breed) was also collected. The results showed that riders from the UK and Holland had similar training and management strategies, which contrasted with those from Sweden and Switzerland which included more turnout time, lunging, loose schooling over jumps, ridden gymnastic jumping and hacking.
When looking at the UK data alone we found that all horses were European Warmbloods with an average age of 7 years. On average each week horses underwent 6 intensive flatwork training sessions (32±10mins), 2 jump training sessions of moderate intensity (22±5mins), 2 low intensity hacks (37±24mins), 2 high intensity fitness training sessions (31±11mins) and 1 rest day. Horses on 1 yard only were lunged once a week (27±2mins). All horses used a horse walker for 1 hour daily. All horses had daily turnout (90±30mins), except for in 1 yard. This pattern varied between yards. The mean duration of flatwork and fitness training sessions was significantly positively correlated with the age of the horse; however the frequency of sessions was not. The duration and frequency of jump training and hacking sessions was not associated with horse age. Duration of hacking sessions was reported as determined by access; this was often combined with fitness work. Training and management pattern varied between yards however the only similarity is that the duration of flatwork and fitness training session’s increases with the horses’ age.
This project was funded by World Horse Welfare and UK Sport Lottery Funding for the British Equestrian Federation World Class Programme.