After the first phase in eventing, cross-country is usually the next phase that follows. Cross-country is the phase that separates eventing from the dressage and show jumping disciplines. It's also something that I recommend every horse person to try participating in at least once.
Cross-country is a phase in eventing that really tests your bravery and skills as an athlete. For those of you unfamiliar with it, cross-country takes place in an open field where solid jumps are spread across the course and you are racing against the clock in hopes to beat all of the times your competitors have set.
To be good at riding a cross-country course, you need to be able to master the balance between speed, control and patience. In between your jumps, most riders will take the opportunity to allow their horse to gallop to the next obstacle to save time. The difficulty with this is being able to bring them back to a controlled pace before you reach the base of the jump so that you can clear it with ease. Keep in mind that these are pretty solid jumps. Unlike show jumping where the rails will fall if you miscalculate your takeoff, these jumps are far less forgiving.
You'll also need to be able to take your horse's stamina into consideration while going through the course. If you're constantly asking your horse to gallop as fast as he can and then still be able to jump, you might not make it to the finish line. Learning how to be patient for the jumps and during the time between them is an important skill to learn if you want to be good at cross-country.
It can be intimidating to be out in a field without a fence in sight. The horses usually get a little more excited and harder to control. Having a good relationship with your horse and reminding him to be constantly listening to you is also important when you're going through the course.
The adrenaline rush and the excitement (not to mention the workout) you get throughout and after a cross-country course is something I've never experienced anywhere else . Just make sure you are careful and that you have someone who is experienced with you if it's your first time out of the ring. Also keep in mind that your horse may be a little "looky" towards the jumps if he has never seen them before so he'll probably refuse a few times.
So that is it for this week, I wish you all a wonderful weekend. Thank you for reading Pure Horse Sense and best of luck if you are wanting to try your hand out at cross-country.
Until next time, happy riding!