"Only with the right diet and exercise combination will you have the athlete that's healthy and fit to be a consistent winner." (Cruiser, pictured above)
Fit horses are strong, prepared athletes that aren't as prone to injury in competition as their counterparts. Getting your horse into shape and keeping him in shape takes time. Over the years I have watched some successful riders who didn't give their horses the time they needed. Guess what? They went through a lot of horses!
Plan to spend an hour and a half each day minimum. If you rush out and throw a saddle on your horse, then lope around the area for five minutes, work through the barrels and put him up, you are not spending the right amount or kind of time. Not only does that scenario work against his fitness, but it's also nerve wracking for him.
Start with a warm up routine, a sensible work out program, stretching, grooming and have a plan for care and conditioning on the road. Remember to let him relax as well. It can be as simple as taking the time to let him roll, world champion, Cruise, loved to do it!