Top tips for cross country schooling by Dee Hankey – part one!
Going XC schooling for the first time can be quite daunting for the horse and rider. So my XC schooling part one is all about preparing to go!
Of course XC schooling is preparing you for an event, but there are many things you can practice at home to help your XC schooling session go smoothly.
Firstly bits! You may feel very happy in a school in a snaffle, but how will it feel when you go for a canter in an open field?! I’m not suggesting everyone goes and over bits their horse, but if your out of control cantering across a field you are not going to ride confidently to a fence in an open field!
Showjumping is done in a contained canter, so my next exercise would be to jump two cross poles on a figure of eight with a softer seat and a slightly more open canter. Your canter should still be in control but in more of a slightly larger stride not necessarily just faster! Try not to rush this exercise you should still make your approach straight and maintain your straightness on landing so you can make a balanced turn.
Straightness is very important as you are now going on to skinnies and corners! We start of by using an oil drum lay on its side with guide poles like ‘V’s on the edge of the barrel. This makes it clear to the horse where you want them to jump. Approach in a straight line in a good positive TROT! Trot is a good pace to start in, sit straight look straight ahead and don’t forget to put your leg on! If your horse wobbles, slightly widen your hands this helps to keep your horse straight, but be ready to soften your hands over the fence in case you get a big jump! Repeat until you and your horse finds it easy, and then repeat in canter! Same rules apply! You can then string a couple of fences together incorporating a corner or two skinnies. Don’t forget to use guide rails it does help.
When you have done your home work we can think about going XC schooling !