It’s perhaps the most exciting equestrian discipline out there – whether you watch the TV highlights, see it live or even compete yourself, cross country always draws a crowd. The challenge of fixed fences, difficult angles combined with optimum time limits requires skill and discipline from a rider.
The thrill of XC makes competing and schooling equally exciting. It’s something we look forward to and many horses love – so how can we keep them safe when the risks are so high?
Firstly, it’s always important to know your limits. If you’re comfortably jumping 60cm at home, don’t try and jump 90cm when out schooling! There’s plenty of XC courses with smaller fences to warm up over or to build confidence and skill. Pushing your horse too far could have some dangerous consequences.
Keep fit! XC schooling is hard work. Make sure your horse is fit and ready for the work you’re asking of them or adjust your session to suit. Build in plenty of walk breaks to ensure they’re comfortable.
Watch the ground – XC courses are typically open over the summer, with only a few courses staying open year round. In the summer, when the ground is harder, make sure you’re conscious of this and take care to look after your horse’s legs and feet. If it’s been dry for a long time, try and delay your session until after some rainfall.
Have the right equipment – it’s not essential that you buy all the gear for a quick pop around your local XC course, but it’s a good idea to have the right equipment to adequately look after your horse. A set of XC boots, like our N.E.W XC Airoflow Boots, will protect your horse from knocks. XC Boots have all-round protection, so the whole leg is covered. Tendon guards prevent the horse from striking into themselves, which is more likely to happen when the horse is moving quickly. You also need to consider yourself; a body protector is strongly recommended by many professionals and XC courses. You can read the British Horse Society’s advice on body protectors by clicking here. It’s also advisable to wear a long sleeved top, which can help to protect your arms should you part company with your horse.
Water – XC is hard work for you and your horse! Make sure you bring along water for the both of you. Not all horses like to drink away from home, so consider taking along something to encourage them to drink. Some horses are tempted by adding apple juice or molasses to their water.
Enjoy XC safely this summer!
Looking for a XC course to hire? Click here to view the British Equestrian Directory’s selection.