Making Each Cross Country School Productive

Kate Chaddeton and Buckharo. Photo by Kasey Mueller. Kate Chaddeton and Buckharo. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

As much as I love eventing, I hate cross country schooling! As brave as I am about leaving the start box at a show, I’m loathe to school. There’s something about the adrenaline that I just can’t recreate at home. But obviously it’s a necessity for an event horse and rider!

With a green horse I like to do a little often. The first time I’ll start with easy stuff (logs, etc.) then add in a couple of more difficult fences like the water and a ditch. I certainly don’t want to overwhelm him and jump EVERYTHING just because it’s there!

The first time out. a lead horse can be an advantage. I’ll let the green horse follow the more experienced one so he knows what to expect. Trotting fences is a useful method to encourage a young horses confidence and thought process.

I also try to think laterally about any problem the horse may have, for example he doesn’t want to jump down the bank? I found jumping up it s couple of times sorts out any issues he’s having. Won’t go over the ditch away from the trailer? Then jump it towards the trailer first.

Schooling is also important for the more experienced horses although I don’t take them out anywhere near as often. For them it’s more about reinforcing the basics, I’ll jump smaller versions of the big stuff they do in competition.

If they’re going around the upper levels, they clearly know how to jump big, I don’t need to put more wear and tear on the horse than necessary. I have show jumps in my cross country field and will move them to different exercises to mimic lines we find at competitions. I’ll set up a corner to corner, or corner to skinny. Another advantage of using show jumps is that I can start small then make them bigger.

I also tailor my schooling to my horses. If they’re not brave into water, I’ll go and school that, and only that, the day before a competition. Same goes for corners/skinnies/ditches etc.