Next Level: Tamie Smith On Fitness and Conditioning

Tamie explains how to condition a winning string of eventing horses, while also keeping a focus on her own fitness.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum's victory lap at the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event
Tamie Smith and Mai Baum’s victory lap at the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. Photo by Mary Cage

Tamie Smith, winner of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5 aboard the 18-year-old German Sport Horse gelding Mai Baum, tailors her fitness and conditioning program to each horse to focus on their specific needs and goals.

“Going into a top five star, I would be galloping typically every four to five days,” she says. “We have wonderful mountains in our area [Temecula Calif.], so I have access to probably the best gallop that I’ve been able to find in the whole country.”

She explains that having hilly terrain is paramount to being able to get her horses’ heart rates up, especially the non-Thoroughbred horses. The steep inclines test the horses’ hearts and lungs without putting unnecessary wear and tear on them.

For the horses at the lower levels, Tamie does a lot of pole and cavaletti work to get their heart rates up. This works on their rideability, while also improving their endurance.

Once a week, Tamie aims to take her horses for a trot-hack, which she finds extremely beneficial.

“We have all kinds of different types of footing, like a river bed, hard-packed road, uneven slopes, and whatnot,” she says. “I take the horses out and just play and just get them through all the different types of footing. I think that that’s really important for their bones and their tendons and ligaments.”

As far as recovery for the horses coming off of big events, Tamie always gives them ample time off.

“For instance, Mai Baum came home after Kentucky and got three weeks in a field of doing nothing,” she says. “I try to leave them out there to just be horses and let their legs and bodies recoup. During those three weeks, we would go over him to make sure that there’s been no new injuries or anything that might have popped up after a competition—typically if you’re going to have some sort of small injury, it might show up a few weeks after.”

For all of Tamie horses, she tries to give the whole month of November and into the start of December off. The older horses go on hacks to keep muscle and fitness intact, and all of the horses are checked on. Otherwise, they get a chance to just be horses and enjoy some time off.

This article about Tamie Smith’s fitness and conditioning approach is a web exclusive for Horse Illustrated magazine’s “Next Level” series. Click here to subscribe!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here