Thursday Video: Ditches with David O’Connor

To watch this video, click the image.

Who’s up for a throwback of sorts? The USEA shared this helpful video from Eventing Training Online and David O’Connor that was first published after an ICP clinic held in 2013. If you’ve ever struggled with your ditches on cross country (I’m raising my hand over here), this video is a must-watch.

“Ditches is the one thing that can end a horse’s cross country career if it’s not done well at the beginning,” David explains. “I’m a big believer that a brave horse is the one that walks up to a six foot ditch, looks in it, and pops across, not the one that runs at it.”

The most important rider responsibility, David says, is direction. David helps a rider with a horse who has taken offense to a small ditch by asking her to ride a parallel line to the ditch rather than pointing him at it, allowing the horse to see and understand the question. This is a tip that often comes up in clinics, and David explains why: “If he’s pointed at it, that’s where I’m going to want him to go. I don’t want him to be pointed at it, they will see it…Pick a line four or five feet away, then move closer to it to get them comfortable with it instead of just pointing him at it.”

Other tips from this session with David:

  • For spooky horses, try a rail over the ditch
  • Don’t get frustrated when things don’t go to plan, the focus should be on the horse’s education
  • When jumping a combination, jump the “out” jump first, then put the combination together – this teaches the horse to hunt that final element

Eventing Training Online recently underwent a rebrand and now offers a subscription that gives members access to all sorts of training videos from top riders all over the country. Particularly in the times of COVID, remote training and online resources have seen a significant uptick. You can check out the new Eventing Training website here.