View Full Version : Get up and Go on cross country

Ecks Marx The Spot
Nov. 3, 2009, 10:16 PM
How can one teach get up and go out on course? My guy isn't too keen on expending too much energy:) and can be difficult to motivate to GO.

When starting a (flat lesson, cross country training , jump lesson) he has more zip for sure, but as time goes on , he becomes down right slothful.

I don't know if its a mental thing or physical thing, but at our first event this past weekend, by the cross country phase the best I got was a short canter( not even gallop) across 1 field. I got a fairly big trot, but i was not inclined to do the one handed rein grab and smack him with the crop since it was not timed and we just wanted to have a fun time first time out.

How can I motivate him , especially on Cross country, other wise we will never make time.

Nov. 3, 2009, 11:41 PM
I think he needs to learn that leg means go no matter where you are...

Nov. 3, 2009, 11:50 PM
Is he fit enough to gallop for as long as you need him to?

I know Patrick isn't... he's difficult to get in shape and loses condition quickly. He's heavy to begin with and getting older, so it's something I have to be careful about.

Nov. 3, 2009, 11:54 PM
If this was your first starter trial, you might need to do some conditioning work in order to build up his stamina enough that he has 'get up and go' on the cross country course. A starter trial is a long day for a horse, especially if he is only used to being ridden an hour a day in a ring or going on a light trail ride (don't know what your training schedule is like so just a suggestion/example!). I'm assuming you rode in a starter trial, where the cross country phase was last? How was he for the dressage and stadium?

Ecks Marx The Spot
Nov. 4, 2009, 07:42 AM
I definately need to work on the moving off the leg.... I already knew that, but thanks for the reminder because I get so caught up doing other things on him I forget to take the time to remind him each time to be prompt with his response to my leg. Today is a good day to work on that!

Yes it was the 3 phases over one day, we were out from 9 am until 430 ish.
For dressage he was forward, and then for staduim he was starting to lose oomph.

I wasn't sure if he was mentally or physically exahusted. I can tell when he hits the wall in a lesson too, he stops carring himself.

He's 7 so he's not a baby. But he was a pasture ornament up until 10 mos ago so perhaps he's still not fit enough physically or mentally?

Perhaps I need to go hack after a lesson or ride in the ring to better prepare him for a longer attention span.

Nov. 4, 2009, 07:47 AM
Seriously. My mare had no forward button until we tried a few seasons of foxhunting. Now she's a house on fire!

We're actually hooked on the Foxhunting now and I plan on maintaining my membership indefinitely.

It's a great tool to teach a horse to gallop xc.

Nov. 4, 2009, 07:50 AM
Do you have people to ride him with? Horses that need a bit of go can do with galloping together...just be careful what you wish for, sometimes you get it.

Nov. 4, 2009, 07:55 AM
I think some horses are naturally more forward and excited about XC than others-to quote a British rider from the last issue of the Chronicle "... he acted like all his Birthdays and Christmases came at the same time!" But Denny also teaches that boldness cames from confidence, confidence comes from ensuring success. How do you ensure success? Certainly proper fitness and not overfacing are two things. And, the leg means go!

Nov. 4, 2009, 08:32 AM
Your report that he starts with energy that goes downhill suggests to me that maybe he just needs more fitness (coupled with that respect for the leg thing). Also, since he's green to eventing, you might be feeling some "sucking back" just from the looking around at all the new stuff there is to look around at xc (and maybe sj too).

It takes time, effort and consistency to condition so I wouldn't worry today that you'll never make it around in OT. But I love the suggestion of a conditioning buddy. They really do motivate each other and make your work a lot easier!

Nov. 4, 2009, 09:00 AM
Definitely try to find someone to ride with - my mare is lazy and on our own conditioning rides I'm always having to suggest a little more pace. Even when she's really fit, she doesn't offer it on her own. With another horse, however, she's much more motivated.

Also, she has learned that XC is fun and will hustle out on course now too, but it took a while.

Given that he has not had to work for much of his life he probably doesn't have a work ethic yet, or know that it's fun to go fast.

Nov. 4, 2009, 09:20 AM
Exactly what Hilary said. My guys are big and it takes work to condition them -- and neither of them love it. I have to push and push no matter how fit they are (and one horse has done a t3d and gone prelim -- plenty fit for both, but you couldn't have predicted it given how much work his conditioning was!!)...but hacking out with others they are very keen.

Both have learned to love xc and are very happy out there.

What is this horse, breed-wise? I have heavier horses (draft cross and big wb) and if these guys have never BEEN really fit before, you MUST work at it, even for an entry level event.

For BN with a heavy horse, I would ride 5 days a week minimum, include hacks out over terrain w-t-c, tack on a short walk hack after most rides, and do sets or conditioning every 4 or 5 days. You could alternate, on those days, doing a nice forward trot over terrain -- see how long he goes without losing steam, and then add 1 minute each time until he is doing 12+ minutes...and then the other conditioning day, work up to sets of 3 5 minute trots with 2 minute rests followed (after a 2 min rest) by 3 21/2 to 3 minute canters with 2 minute rests.

When that is pretty easy for him he's good and ready to get out and clock around BN making time.

The first "up hill" to a basic level of fitness is the hardest -- gets easier after that!

Nov. 4, 2009, 11:59 AM
My horse, despite LOVING xc, never once took off out of the box. He evented for probably some 10 years, up to Prelim, and it always kind of took him a fence or two to get excited. Id be kicking him out of a slow jog to the first fence! Maybe somewhere along the line someone made a big point of *not* taking off out of the box, and he never forgot it. But it was always a bit funny.

Fitness does make a big difference. He was at his fittest this past season, and he was the craziest, spookiest horse he has ever been....and he is 19. All of a sudden in dressage, he just wanted to medium canter everything. My coach got on him one day, and was surprised to find he felt so peppy. I was surprised it made such a difference in every aspect of his personality.

Ecks Marx The Spot
Nov. 4, 2009, 12:00 PM
thanks for all the suggestions!

I know I need to hack more. Lack of time and torrential rain, and I mean weeks of it , made the acerage I ride in a swamp at best.

He's an Appaloosa of unknown breeding ( I assume mostly foundation App and QH but thats just a guess), 15 hands and not heavily built I don't think...
Pm me for photos I can give the link to the Event we went to that had a photographer at it.

I just asked a gal at the barn to let me know if she wants to go trailer out to a large trail area for a day of trail riding too.

thanks again!