Basic Conditioning Schedule by Nancy Beacon

This is a very old schedule, and we’ve learned some things since it was written. But despite that, it has some good tips. Nancy was, and still is, an icon in the sport.


Nancy R. Beacon
April 25, 1976

The following schedule for conditioning is based on 6 weeks work for a ride of 25 to 30 miles at moderate speed about 10 minutes per mile. The horse used would have been ridden previously about two to three days a week at pleasure paces. Since each horse fits up differently and each rider has different times available to train this schedule is a base to work from adjusting to specific horse and rider.

    • 1st week -Ride your horse about one hour 5 or 6 days a week – start slowly – take it easy. Begin to explore different routes. Concentrate on your tack. Does it fit you and the horse?
    • 2nd week Increase your riding time about one-half hour. Begin to slow trot first part of week – by the end of week trot almost half the time. Find some obstacles to cross. Creeks, hills, marshy places – these will all be met on the rides. You should ride a 5 mile circle at this time. Always walk the last half-mile home. (I walk on my own feet and lead the horse.) Don’t go very fast yet.
    • 3rd week -Ride 1 to 2 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week. Although the trot is the main endurance gait it doesn’t hurt to canter to break the monotony and/or build wind. Begin to watch timing. Trot 10 minutes by the watch without stopping. Look at your mount, he should be shaping up – a different animal from the one your started with. Toward the end of the week do a five-mile circle in less than one hour or 6 miles in an hour and 10 minutes.
    • 4th week – Ride 5 days a week for not less than an hour. Extend the trot – push on -and take each ride with a little more speed – lots of fast trotting. Try to find a place where you can canter your horse until he is blowing, then slow down to a driving trot, then slow trot – walk – taking time to gear down. See how quickly the horse recuperates. Ride 15 miles once this week. Have shoeing done for the ride.
    • 5th week -Ride 4 to 5 days this week. Take a 15-mile ride in one hour and 30 minutes. Trot fully extended beside a car for a mile. Are you going 10 mph or over? Walk a measured mile – Aim to do it under 18 minutes. Be sure you have a good organized routine for cooling out your horse.
    • 6th week -During the first part of this week take 10 miles in one hour and 40 minutes. You are almost there so don’t do anything risky – there’s no time to heal up now. Do your 6-mile circle in an hour. Take it easy the day or two before the ride itself. Either turn the horse into the pasture or walk for a leisurely hour’s ride. Ride hard only four days this week. Good Luck!