Is road work as important these days with the short format?
Francis says… In short the answer to this question is yes, roadwork is hugely important despite not running over roads and tracks anymore. I believe it is as important now as it was then. There was a belief that fitness levels would change with the demise of long format however roadwork is equally vital and I do a huge amount of it throughout the season. Even over the short format horses still need to be at the peak of their fitness and as athletic as they would have been before.
The key to utilising roadwork, as an old boy once told me, is to ‘walk fast and trot slow,’ and this is an ethos I still adhere to. I am very fortunate that I have a lot of hills around my yard so we trot the horses slowly up them. All of my team hack around 3 times a week on the roads, the older horses go for longer hacks as well as their canter work and I believe it really helps to tone their legs. It is not necessary to trot for miles and miles just steady trot work and this helps chill them out and unwind. Not only is hacking on the roads a useful preparatory tool prior to the start of the season, but it also helps keep the horses focused and fit throughout the year.