7 Ideas for Building Your Own DIY Cross Country Jumps on the Cheap

I need a day off and like, 20 million dollars. How do I practice eventing without having access to hundreds of thousands of dollars of cross country jumps?

Creativity and hard work.

Unfortunately, I’m not independently wealthy. I did not have a long lost uncle leave me millions of dollars. My dad is not a famous rockstar. I’m not an actress who does this as a hobby. So I’ve had to get creative to prepare my horse properly for events. Many of the questions on our course at Hummingbird Stables were built because my horse was worried about it at a show, so I recreated these, on a budget at home.

Here are some simple ideas you can do at home to practice, outside or even in an arena if you don’t have the land or if it’s winter.

🐴 Ditch – This one I literally went in the woods with a shovel. It took half a day, but easy enough for a BN ditch. I secured it with wood beams we had laying around and filled with gravel to keep weeds out. You could make a faux ditch in the arena with a tarp/poles. We also use natural ditches on the farm reinforced with beams as ditches. No digging needed!

Total cost = $20 in gravel and some sweat.

Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

🐴 Log/Trakehner – A former student of mine had connections to the local drainage tile company (those 2′ chunks of plastic drain tubes farmers use). We got ours for free as it was a 10′ scrap they couldn’t sell. You can like buy a scrap for cheap. Just pick up. We balance it on top of logs over the ditch to be our trakehner. The plastic is big enough like that to be a prelim jump, but light enough that I can move it myself.

Total cost = $0-??

Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

🐴 Brush Fence/Palisade – Pallets are free when you pick up at your local farm store. Prop them up with wing standards and add trimmings from trees. Inside or outside!

Total cost = $0

Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

🐴 Log cabin – again a farm store burn pile steal for free. It was already the square shape as it was a shipping container. I added sides, cut to fit and sanded edges for a smooth finish. Poles piled on top can make it anywhere from 3′ – 3’9″.

Total cost using scrap wood from the pile = $0 and a day of work.

Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

🐴 Drops – Look for natural spots in the land…dig away the excess with a shovel and reinforce with boards. Total cost $0 plus scrap wood.

Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

🐴 Indoor logs – Plastic rain barrels are awesome. On their sides they are 2′ high. Three across for lots of room, 2 for a skinny, stood up they are 3′ tall, add poles on top for higher jumps. Total cost = $20/each.

Photo courtesy of Amy Nelson.

🐴 Indoor Jump Markers – Pool floaties stuffed in cones. Pool floaties are cheap at the dollar store, come in yellow (like white) and orange (like red). When stuffed into your cone you can mark you indoor cross country course! Total cost = $20.

Enjoy your practice on a budget!

Amy Nelson has been riding hunter/jumpers and eventers for 25 years and is based in Rochester, IL.  She retrains OTTBs, problem horses, and trains eventers at her own show barn, Hummingbird Stables.  She competes with OTTBs in upper level eventing, has qualified for the AECs at many levels, and has competed in the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover.  Her goals are to compete at the one-star level this year, and eventually four-star. You can follow Amy on Facebook here and on Instagram at @amynelsoneventer. Check out more of her “Eventing Shorts” on EN’s Blogger’s Row