A 3000 year old fitness program for horses offers modern trainers the opportunity to improve horses' fitness while keeping them sound and happy.
The program was named after its creator, the Mitannian Master Horse Trainer Kikkuli, which horse conditioning techniques helped establish a military
empire in around 1345 BC. By following the instructions laid down in the Kikkuli Text, you will be able to produce a superb equine athlete without the use of drugs or expensive feed additives.
Performance horses and racehorses as a whole continue to be trained by tired old conventional methods. Race times for horses have barely improved in the last few decades (unlike the great improvement in times for human athletes) and lameness disqualifies potentially ending endurance horses and eventers at the beginning of their careers. Kikkuli's Method addressed all these problems.
Kikkuli used Interval training based on several principles. Once of these techniques was that whatever he intended to do under saddle, he did first by leading the horse (not in the same day – this is as a principle). That means that if the horse is to be trotted under saddle, the horse should be led at the trot (from a vehicle or other horse) for a set period of time (that is, over days or weeks) prior to this. If the horse is to be cuttered under saddle, the horse should be led at the canter (from a vehicle or other horse) for a set period of time (that is, over days or weeks) prior to this (and so on). Kikkuli even led horses at the gallop. This way the horse's system will adjust to the work without the stress of weight and without the psychological stress of dealing with a rider. By following this Kikkuli Principle there will be no weight-bearing stress on the horse in the initial training.
If leading more than one horse, make sure you get the order right. Some horses like to lead and some horses like to follow. The horses led from the front of vehicle, from the front doors, will need to move out wider to allow for the vehicle to turn around corners and bends. Horses that like to kick other horses will obviously need to be led from the back of the vehicle. When leading five horses, place a horse which likes to kick, in the middle of two horses behind the back of the vehicle. This is the place which offers the least movement. I always lead stallions from the driver's window so they are in easy reach. Some horses can become competitive with the vehicle, and at times will try to race it or bite it. Do not worry about this, this will cease, or at least only happen from time to time, when the horse becomes more used to the leading.