Training for a military race.—It is impossible to lay down fixed rules for training a service mount to run a military steeple chase. The care of the animal as well as his work will vary with his breeding, but an officer or a noncommissioned officer training his horse must pay constant attention, in all cases, to—
- (1) The amount of work.
- (2) The condition of the legs.
- (3) The appetite.
First. Amount of work.—Training a service mount for a military steeple chase does not involve such complete conditioning as is required in training a thoroughbred for a flat race. Moderate work should be sufficient to put him in condition, keeping in view the main object which is to bring him up to his maximum strength and energy on the day of the race. First, it must never be forgotten that the less the horse has of pure blood, the less he should be worked into condition for a speed test.
About two months are required to prepare a horse, following a well-chosen programme and working only rarely at full speed. It is better, if possible, to have the horse a little above condition to start with, that is, fat rather than poor, because it is easier to take off fat than to gain weight by building muscle.
Each day's work should be of about two hours' duration. Exercise should be given in the morning as far as possible, at any rate in summer, so as to avoid the heat and the flies. Give the horse one, or at most, two quarts of oats about one hour before work.
First and second week.—Exercise the horse at a walk; work him once or twice every day at a trot for a mile or