Tips To Get The Best Out Of Your XC Schooling This Year.
Our regular blogger, event rider and Timothy Foxx Clothing Ambassador, David Britnell shares his top tips for the season ahead..
Make sure you have your kit complete.
For me my essential kit consists of a neck strap to put a couple of fingers under to help you in those interesting moments and also great for those riders that kill the canter on the way into a fence if they hold the neck strap they cant get too handy.
- Decent XC boots -too many people wear brushing boots and they just don’t protect the horse!
- Skull cap not a peaked hat.
- Grippy Stirrups
- Obviously a back protector and I would always encourage an air jacket too.
Once your kit is sorted, consider having tuition the first time you go schooling this year so that unnecessary issues and problems can be avoided due to having eyes on the ground. Then next time out you can build on the confident session you had previously.
Go to your event with a friend family member, other riders for extra confidence and leads. In case you fall off you need help in that situation, boots very often need adjusting and a video to post on Instagram needs to be recorded.
Make sure you understand which way the fences are designed to be jumped, look for ground lines and flags remember red on the right. If your’e still not sure, then don’t jump it.
Start very simple even for a very experienced horse. Its always sensible to start with straight forward smaller fences to warm up over and for both of you to get your eye in.
Your aim has to be to finish confident. You should feel that your horse locks onto the fence and takes a confident contact on the approach. This won’t occur if you jump fences that are above your pay grade currently.
XC schooling isn’t the place to try and set the world on fire. You are there to jump the fences required for your current level and a couple of the next level if everything is going well.
XC schooling, you and your horse don’t need to get your blood up like you do when competing so remember that and make sure you do ride with enough impulsion/power (impulsion is your friend).
Be secure, ride short enough that your knee is up into the knee roll and you can easily come off the horses back without your seat bashing the saddle. Having your stirrups short enough gives a secure and stable lower leg with the weight through your heel. Make a clear difference between your light seat to get between the fences and then growing tall and sitting lightly or strongly as required in the saddle for the last few strides before take off. Your tall body and secure leg will allow you to support your horse on the way into the fence keeping a consistent tempo and uphill balance. XC will never be perfect so you need that security to stay in the saddle come what may.
Be confident or if nervous act confident. Your horse needs to feel your leg pushing him together and into the contact on the way to every fence. The amount of leg depends on your horse but you must make sure you don’t just think speed and momentum is going to get you over the fence. That is a common mistake. It should feel like you are pushing you horse up a hill into the bridle, then if he does spook, slip, misread the fence or look to run out the corridor of your legs pushing him equally into both of your hands should keep him from “disappearing into a classroom and making it confidently and safely into the playground at the end of the corridor.”
Don’t slack on the preparation, make sure you give your horse a decent straight approach to his fences and then on the way into a fence “be nosey and look beyond the fence”, looking for your next fence, spectators, fence judges, trees etc looking in the direction you want to go next so you make a balanced departure most likely on the correct canter lead to the next fence. By looking to the next fence/other reference points on the way to the one before, this stops you looking down which will cause your shoulders to drop and you to lose your security this is very often when horses stop or add an extra stride because the riders body is essentially blocking the horse from being able to get off the ground. By looking beyond the fence and riding a consistent connected uphill canter on a straight approach with your body out of the way you will meet the fence well and jump it well. It’s the horses job to look at the fence and decide how he wants to deal with it no point you looking at it on those last 3 to 4 strides.
This blog comes courtesy of tweed fashion brand Timothy Foxx www.timothyfoxx.co.uk