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Cross Country Tips!

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  • Cross Country Tips!

    I'm new to the eventing world (and this board!) and I completed my first event this past weekend. It was FANTASTIC! Had a ball, met some lovely people, had good rides, and learned a lot.

    I'm quite comfortable in the dressage ring, and fine with the stadium jumping phase. I love cross-country, but whenever I go out my riding just falls apart. Does anyone have any tips or tricks they've used that helped them out?

    All that is gold does not glitter;
    Not all those who wander are lost.
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

  • #2
    NS Rider, not sure where you are located, but the biggest and most important cross-country riding tip I think I could give you would be to Educate Yourself.

    Go to Amazon.com, or your local tack shop, or Bit of Britain's online catalog (among others) and get a few good DVD's and books on cross country riding and jumping by such experts as James Wofford, Andrew Hoy, Andrew Nicholson, Mary King, The O'Connors have good dvd, and there's loads more. I personally go back again and again to Lucinda Green (prior-palmer)'s book on Cross-Country Riding. She is a master...which leads me to my next suggestion....

    Make certain you find out in your area where and when the clinics with upper level riders and instructors, such as ICP instructors of Level II or above, are being held. Then make SURE you clear your calendar to AUDIT or if you can afford it, RIDE in them. The instruction you get from a master rider, or clinician of a top standard will be life-changing and amazing. I promise! Do not feel just because you are just starting that you will not be welcomed or won't learn anything. Au contrare!

    A two day clinic with someone like Boyd Martin, Lucinda Green, Phillip Dutton, Karen or David O'Connor, and I don't mean to leave anyone out but there are many very good top riders teaching today, is going to change your riding and make you really understand and enjoy the cross-country, so that's what I'd recommend!

    MANY congratulations on your successful completion this past weekend! Good luck and have fun! (And welcome to the Dark Side!)
    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


    • #3
      What helps me is to practice my galloping positions at home both at the trot and canter (done in sets to condition me and my horse) so they become second nature. I have several positions I use at the gallop.

      1. My "flat galloping" phase - standing a little in the stirrups, body tilted a little forward, hands soft but reins short to make pace/stride length adjustments. Used mainly on longer galloping stretches to rest my muscles a little and get off my horse's back.

      2. Approach phase - dropped down into heels, stat a little closer to saddle, body upright. Legs on and hands soft, steady and holding horse between legs and hands. I use this on approaching a jump and when jumping out of stride.

      3. Driving phase - if I need a more positive, driving ride. I will drop down and sit in the saddle, with a slightly driving seat and leg. I use this when my horse seems backed off or is not sure of a jump.

      Now, others may have more suggestions. This is just my opinion. You might also read the thread on galloping position.


      • #4
        The first few time your rides will fall apart, it happened to me most of last season. But this one time I went out the in Feb at poplar....it was cold, wet and miserable, the corse had ice and mud patches we had to wait til it defrosted, but man by the time I got out there I had the best run ever......everything made sense. I walk my courses about 3 to 4 times and I make sure I have my track down where I need to look and how I want to get there really planned out. I sing, I song whatever I can thing of to get out of my mond and just feel the horse go. And when i let go of trying to control everything and just get him to the jump the best i can, I let him get over and start singing again!!!
        No Worries!


        • #5
          Ride out as much as you can. Just getting out of the ring and into the great outdoors, even for just a walk, helps you get comfortable with changes in terrain and less than perfect footing. Trot and canter and just have fun and play out there. It really is amazing how much it helps you and your horse.

          If you don't have one already, Ty and find a good instructor to ride with on a regular basis. This is a tough sport...having regular help from someone who knows you and your horse makes a world of difference! Auditing an clinicing is great, but nothing tops a relationship with a good instructor.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for all the tips. I am a rider who loves to ride out on the trail, hack, everything like that. The area where I'm at right now is a little sparse on trails but has plenty of good dirt roads with hills galore to work on. The one thing I do worry about is hacking out by myself. The rule "don't ride by yourself" has been drilled into me since I started riding and it's difficult finding riding buddies to come out with me!

            FYI: retreadeenter, I'm in Eastern Canada (Nova Scotia, hence the NSRider)

            I'm going to be taking a clinic from Francois Lemaire, has anyone heard of him?
            All that is gold does not glitter;
            Not all those who wander are lost.
            ~J.R.R. Tolkien


            • #7
              HI NSRider, I'm from NB, with hopes on making it to the Island's horse trials in September. There is an open schooling session Aug 3rd at the course on the Island for $10, plus they also want help with cleaning up around the site. Maybe something you may be interested in. They are also having an Ian Roberts clinic in September as well. I also know there is a clinic in NB in Aug, but can't remember who it is.

              I have always trained on the trails by myself, no it isn't ideal but at the time I didn't have anyone else to ride with. to be safe, take your cell phone, and leave a trail plan with each trail you will be on, and give a rough time as to when you'll be back with someone. Good luck, and maybe we'll meet up sometime :-)


              • #8
                I get the concern about not riding out alone, but for some, if you waited for a buddy, you'd never get out! Take your phone, let someone know where you're going, and go have fun.

                One of my boys is actually better alone. He's kinda naughty under the best of circumstances, and when he's out with others he feels he has to lead, but gets wild when the others make noise behind him