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Cross Country 101 - Part One
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   11th Mar 2013   •   3,498 views   •   2 comments
Cross Country 101

In this article, I will be explaining to you how best to ride your cross country course between the fences. Keep your eyes peeled for part two, which will look more closely at how to ride each individual type of fence.

In cross country, one of the biggest challenges is always trying to get inside the time, so it makes sense that one ought to ride at speed. However, if you take your fences too fast, it can often lead to problems that would have been avoidable at slower speeds. So, rather than coming well inside the time with twenty penalties, what you want is a good, solid clear round close to the optimum time.

Cross Country 101

Cross country watches are always an option, but in my opinion, a rider ought to develop a feel for their speed and cross country rhythm before wearing a watch, because the watch can be distracting, and can cause you to lose focus and make a potentially fatal mistake at a jump.

For most horses, the best way to ride your cross country course is to start off fast. Usually the first few jumps are relatively straightforward anyway, so send your horse on. Get him moving, get his heart rate up and his adrenaline pumping. This way, for the rest of the course, he’ll be feeling brave and eager. To get inside the time, you should choose ‘gallop stretches’. When you walk your courses, find long stretches with safe ground and jumps spaced far apart, and push your horse into a good, fast gallop. This allows you to take your more technical jumps slowly in order to avoid an accident.

Cross Country 101

When walking the course, one should always be aware of changing ground (like grass to sand), shadows on the ground, any stones, sticks, roots or holes and any little dips or hills. All of these could easily throw your horse off stride, so you must be ready to correct any falter before it causes an error at your fence.

Cross Country 101

There is never time to ‘relax’ in cross country. Lots of riders make the mistake of thinking that if there are no jumps coming up, they can stop riding and stop thinking quite so hard, and take a moment to catch their breath. This is always a mistake. Out in the country, the rider must literally ride every stride. You should feel your horse’s hooves beneath you, and always keep him focused on you so you can send him forward or get him back in an instant. Your seat should always be 100% solid, because since cross country is often run over rugged terrain, a trip on the flat is not unusual. Should your horse stumble, you have to be ready to balance both him and yourself so neither of you falls.

Cross Country 101

Your responsibility as the rider is to give your horse the best possible ride between the jumps so that when he gets to a fence, he can give you his best possible jump.

Ride smart, ride strong, and you won’t go wrong.
Run Free  
Just as I was wondering when your next article would be ... BOOM ... There is it and, as usual, it's amazing XD
  Mar 12, 2013  •  4,302 views
 
Polo the Weirdo  MOD 
Who is excited for part two in this series? :) Motivate me!
  Mar 16, 2013  •  3,873 views
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