Are you all set to maximise the benefits of cross country schooling? Then read on in our latest blog taken from our feature published in Local Rider Magazine- available now from all good retailers!




Michaela, rider, trainer and instructor, shares her pointers on cross country schooling with readers in her top tips for getting the most from your cross country schooling.


Michaela says...


1.) Try and find a consistent, positive pace around the course – it can be fast or slow, according to your horse's level of experience and schooling, but ideally needs to be consistent. Maintain impulsion and connection from leg to hand. Once you have established your 'base' speed, you can take your horse up or down the gears when required, for example slowing down on the approach to an upright. Many riders have what they call a 'between fences gallop'.


2.) A common mistake is to be too far forward in the saddle in between fences – the upright position is important in cross-country riding, as it gives you more stability. Also, if you are ahead of the movement when you jump, e.g. if the horse cat leaps, you may lose stability or risk a fall.

3.) Start to alter your 'between fences gallop' at least ten strides from a fence, so you can establish a positive canter, suitable for the fence in question, and achieve the best rhythm.

4.) Maintain straightness at all times on your approach – the horse's shoulder must stay behind his head – if not, he could run out. Maintain your leg aids.

5.) Don't panic about seeing a stride – if you have a good, positive canter, you'll be in balance and can jump it out of a good stride.

6.) Even if you have a very reliable horse, don't completely trust the horse to jump the fence – it is correct and advisable to be positive, but a 'gung ho' approach leads to sloppiness. Make sure you are still asking the right questions and giving the right cues, rather than just 'pointing and going'. It is common to see riders 'giving up' at the point of take off, rather than committing to the jump!

7.) For water jumps and ditches, sit up! Exaggerate your 'safety position' on your approach, particularly with an inexperienced horse – eg, elevate your shoulders and make sure the weight is down into your heels.

8.)Don't back off a 'scary' water complex – approach from a positive, forward-going stride. Don't rush in all guns blazing however, as this may cause the horse to stumble once they are in the complex, as the water naturally slows them down.

9.) You may need to slip the reins if you are jumping down into water, but don't slip them so far that you can't steer.

10.) Take an RS-tor riding safety aid – you can hold it at the same time as slipping the reins through your hand, e.g. when jumping down a drop. Many riders without RS-tors may struggle to stay in balance in this scenario, as they take up the reins (which may be slippery) and try to establish their position, especially on a forward-going horse. If the horse stumbles while the rider is imbalanced, the rider may fall. However, the RS-tor allows the rider to stay in the saddle safely. It is perfect for riders with young, inexperienced, strong or excitable horses, and for boosting rider confidence. (Visit www.rstor.co.uk for info.)

For more information about the RS-tor riding safety aid promoting rider safety and confidence visit the website at www.rstor.co.uk.