Improving Your Cross Country by Crossing the Country

Lucinda Green MBE certainly needs little introduction. A World and European eventing champion, multiple-time Badminton and Burghley winner, and an Olympic medalist, she can these days be found running the Lucinda Green XC Academy and teaching the next generation of event riders. In response to Ema Klugman’s recent opinion editorial on the safety of cross country schooling, Lucinda provides her perspective on how to best improve your cross country riding skills.

Photo by Samantha Clark.

Be careful not to price or place cross country training out of people’s reach – if Michael Jung trains his horses on cross country twice per week, then most of us need to do much more cross country training than we presently do.

If rules are put in place that make it so that we can’t go without an instructor, this will multiply expenses and make organisation more difficult – meaning less riders will be able or willing to go school as frequently as they need to.

It is such a difficult question as I see exactly where the problem is coming from – cross country education is hugely important – which is why I’ve started up the on line Lucinda Green XC Academy. But so is the 10,000 hour theory (promoted by author Malcolm Gladwell as the “magic number to greatness”): practice, practice, practice.

Killaire and Lucinda Green. Photo by Kit Houghton/Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.

In addition to more practice over cross country questions, the mindset also needs to alter: we should all seek out and embrace difficult ground in our daily hacks – or as frequently as possible for those who have to trailer to hack. Don’t be frightened to go “off piste” in the woods or at the edge of tracks. Take on bumps, steep banks (keep them straight), traverse deep tractor tracks,etc. – just be sure to watch out for rabbit holes, traps, broken bottles, and other hazards!

Give your horse his head and steer him accurately on a long rein with your legs and weight. Allow your horse to practice his “hand-eye” coordination which results in his sure-footedness.

So many horses never go on rough ground as they are so often on an arena or prepared ground. As a result of this practice, soon their natural elastic and instinctive brilliance at handling all types of irregularities without straining themselves, or falling over, will be evolved out of them.

Cross THE country in walk, trot and canter depending on how rough it is and look upon this as an important part of your cross country training and your horse’s soundness.

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