Which plan for horse riders?

I have a running buddy whose family are all horse riders. (little/no cycling experience between them).

They are looking at trainer road for winter/covid safe horse fitness.

Any suggestions which plan?

We are starting from absolute scratch - sourcing a bike and a trainer etc

Start by finding a bike for the horses…



Use the plan builder, but really they’ll probably want to spend more time with some sort of horse-fitness-specific resistance training. My (admittedly dim) memories from the stable are that riding is a lot more about strength and core stability than aerobic capacity. Swimming or gymnastics might be a better option for cross-training.


If it were me in that position, and I had no knee or other issues that prevent it, I would do a running and gym plan, of which cycling could be part of the aerobic makeup.

Only similarity between the two sports is balance and sitting/standing/holding something.

If they were determined to ride I would point them at CX or MTB, TR could bolster the fitness aspects of those disciplines but actually going and riding might complement the horse riding. I assume they do cross country or similar, fitness requirements in dressage aren’t quite the same.


pools tricky to access and not for everyone. Good shout on gym. Home based easy enough.

you mean TR MTB plan? Yes good idea.

I didn’t mean that but it would be as good as any, on the basis any plan (with compliance) would give decent fitness boosts to any non-rider.

TBH I am not sure I would recommend TR for this training need at all - I would see one or 2 bike sessions a week would complement a fitness regime well, but a full plan with progression and 3+ sessions a week feels overkill.

For example a 2 x 20 threshold session once a week would contribute nicely to fitness and needs nothing more than a bike, a dumb trainer (or long hill) and a good idea of what riding that hard feels like.

I did however mean going and riding a bike outside on trails would complement cross country riding - both very physical and although different the skills kinda of cross over.

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I heard somebody say recently that the difference between exercise and training is that exercise is about maintaining health, and training is about progressing fitness. Everything on TR is built around progress, growing your capability, getting faster on a bike. If your goal is to maintain a base level of aerobic fitness in support of another discipline, a TR plan is overkill.

(To be clear, I’m not saying TR is overkill for beginners or overkill for people coming from another discipline. It’s awesome for people in both categories, assuming their goal is growth.)


I think that nails it. A cyclist wanting to train for riding a bike should go with TR (or alternative, but tbh TR makes it easy to do which is half the battle). A cyclist or person wanting to be fit and cycle as part of that, go ride a bike, if indoors then have a look at ZWift (RGT also available but personally I have found it to be pretty poor).

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Assuming pedaling is their first choice for cardio, they sound like perfect candidates for a Peloton. The bike plus the various other fitness tools on the app will give them a much wider range of fitness options versus the laser focus of TR and can be had for about the same cost as a bike + smart trainer and the monthly subscription is similar to TR’s cost. (A Peloton is much easier to share than a bike/trainer set up too).

If they aren’t committed to pedaling, a Concept II rower is a great cardio machine. (better than a bike for general fitness)

Add a set of kettle bells to either and you have a fairly complete home gym.

Jeez, I was thinking of training the horses. They have treadmills for horses. I suppose you could have them do TR workouts (I would LOVE to see the interval workouts – Spencer anyone?).

Disaster equestrian day?

On a Dirty Jobs episode Mike was at a horse farm were they were putting a horse through a lactate threshold test. I was watching with a buddy who has first hand experience with raising racing horses, but he didn’t know about that.

There just seems to be so many cheaper options than a bike, smart trainer, bike shoes, and bike shorts…

I wonder why they aren’t looking at running shoes, dumbbells, a treadmill, or even an exercise bike. If they live in snow country, they could strap on X-country skis and head out the door after a snow storm.

Also lactate threshold tests!

Regarding cost, you could just source a cheap used fluid trainer+ speed sensor and whatever bike fits. I started TR on a $200 road bike and a $100 KK and still got the full app functionality, which is cheaper than a gym or pool membership in my area. Obviously not the cheapest option possible, but It’s certainly not critical to drop big money on a smart trainer and a nice bike. (particularly as it sounds like they’ll be using the bike exclusively indoors and probably don’t need to have a super high accuracy in terms of power measurement.)
And while cycling might not be the most specific training for horse riding, sometimes that might be a good thing- both from a general fitness/wellbeing perspective and also to keep things interesting. If they’ve shown an interest in TR, I wouldn’t discourage them from trying out a referral code or something. Even if it doesn’t work out, you can still use the setup with other services like Zwift or the Peloton app.
I think the ‘time crunch’ or maintenance plans would be a good fit- they’re shorter and have a lot of variety (kind of like a spin class), and there’s also a bit more wiggle room for resistance training etc.

1 :horse: = 745 watts. Arabian weight ~450kg. --> 1.65 w/kg.

Sprinter not a climber, I guess. :rofl:


I have to give the nod to breakaway specialist on that one. Even though the horse would be a good draft I think he would be too strong and would simply run away with it.

Well, a draft horse would probably be closer to 900kg and probably not much for long runs.

Even the Morgans (average ~450kg) and mustangs (average ~360kg) used by the Pony Express were only ridden ~10 miles between changes and usually moved around 15 mph, occasionally as high as 25 mph. So, making the break and staying in it seems unlikely.

If it were a Ford Mustang, that would be a different story.

(I am having way too much fun with this. :laughing:)


A horsepower was based on the work a horse could do in a 4 hour shift. If we assume that 4 hours is at a .75 IF, this would imply a HTP of 993W or 2.2 w/kg.