Long Term Equestrian Development

What is Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD)/ Long Term Equestrian Development (LTED)?

LTAD is a systemic approach being adopted by Equestrian Canada (EC) and the Alberta Equestrian Federation (AEF) to maximize a participant/athlete’s potential and involvement in our sport. The LTAD framework aims to define an optimal training, competition and recovery program model based on biological age rather than chronological age.  It is a stage by stage training, competition and recovery pathway guiding an individual’s experience in sport and physical activity from infancy right through to adulthood. It is athlete centered, coach driven and administrated, sport science and sponsor supported.

Tailoring an athlete’s/participant’s sports development program to suit basic principles of growth and maturation, especially during the ‘critical’ early years of their development, enables him/her to:

• Reach full potential (introduction to Olympic podium)
• Increase lifelong participation in Equestrian and other physical activities
• Improving health and well-being

This program’s target goals are to improve the overall health, well-being, and athlete potential while encouraging life-long participation in equestrian sport.

The LTED tailors an equestrian athlete’s development program to suit basic principles of growth and maturation just as the generic LTAD model lays out, especially during the ‘critical’ early years. It sets out recommended training sequences and skill developments for athletes from the Active Start stage (six and under) to the Active for Live Stage (adult participatory). It addresses the physical, mental, emotional and technical needs of athletes as they pass through each stage of development:

  • Active Start
  • FUNdamemtals
  • Learn to Train
  • Train to Train
  • Learn to Compete
  • Train to Compete
  • Learn to Win
  • Train to WIn
  • Competitive for Life
  • Active for Life

Physical literacy is the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.

The initial stages of LTAD/LTED develop physical literacy before puberty so children have the basic skills to be active for life. Physical literacy also provides the foundation for those who choose to pursue elite training in one sport or activity after age 12. The competitive stages provide elite training for those who want to specialize in one sport and compete at the highest level, maximizing the physical, mental and emotional development of each athlete. Active for Life stage refers to staying active through lifelong participation in competitive or recreational sport or physical activity.

The Para-Athlete’s long term athlete development model has two additional LTED stages—Awareness and First Involvement. These additional stages are particularly important for individuals with an acquired disability who may not  have been aware of sport and physical activity for persons with a disability. Athletes who retire from Para-equestrian competition are encouraged to remain involved in equestrian  sport at the Active For Life Stage as a coach, instructor, official, mentor, volunteer, and participant.

By following the LTAD/LTED framework set out by Sport for Life for generic sport, and EC for equestrian sport we aim to have a place for all athletes in Equestrian, whether competitive or not, with room for growth following a healthy and optimal pathway.


Below are some useful resources for parents, participants, athletes, coaches, etc. (Please note that some of these documents are generic and not sport specific)



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