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Cross Country 101 - Part Two
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   20th Mar 2013   •   6,853 views   •   0 comments
Cross Country 101

In this article, we will be looking at some of the different types of jumps you can find on a cross country course, and how each type ought to be ridden.

Arrowheads:
An arrowhead is a type of skinny built in a triangular shape, so that the horse must jump from the narrow point of the arrow over the wider end. Arrowheads can be particularly tricky jumps for riders, because the point of the arrow draws in the rider’s eye, and this is so narrow that it is nearly impossible to place for. While a rider’s attention is focused on trying to present to the narrowest point of the jump, it is inevitable that the rider will end up riding to the base of the jump, without the impulsion or intention to jump to the other side, resulting in a stop.

To avoid this issue, the rider must focus their gaze on the wider top of the arrowhead – where their horse is actually going to be jumping – and ignore the point completely. The point of the arrowhead is really nothing more than a narrow groundline, and it requires no setting up from the rider. An arrowhead should be approached with the horse collected, and dead straight between the rider’s hands and legs. The rider should always remember to ride THROUGH the jump, not just to the base, to make sure that the horse doesn’t stop or glance off the side. These jumps are all about planning and intention.

Cross Country Jumping Arrowheads

Cross Country Jumping Arrowheads

Banks:
Banks and drops usually consist of jumping up from lower ground onto higher ground, or jumping from higher ground onto lower ground. When jumping up a bank, the rider must ensure that the horse has impulsion, and place carefully to avoid a stumble. The rider must also be ready to release to ensure that they don’t catch the horse in the mouth.

When jumping down a drop, the key is to NEVER look down. What a rider must remember is that wherever they look, the horse looks, too. A drop should be approached with collected momentum, and the rider should look ahead into the distance to where they want to go. When the horse jumps, the rider must lean right back in the saddle and, if necessary, let the reins slide through their fingers to avoid catching the horse in the mouth.

Cross Country Jumping Banks and Drops

Cross Country Jumping Banks and Drops

Corners:
They keys to these fences are LINE and COMMITMENT. A corner is a jump built to form a ‘V’ shape, much like a fan in showjumping. A corner is a particularly easy jump for a horse to run out at, because more often than not there is no clear line as to where the corner ought to be jumped, and the horse will just glance off the side without the rider ever committing to a distinct line.

The best way to place for a corner is to draw a line from the one arm of the V to the other, effectively turning the ‘V’ into an ‘A’. The correct line for a corner is one perpendicular to an imaginary line bisecting the ‘V’ shape. Of course, it’s not always possible to examine the corner with a protractor and a spirit level before starting out on your course, so when it comes down to it, what a rider must effectively do is choose a straight, definite LINE, and then COMMIT completely to riding it. If the rider holds the line without wavering, then the horse will lock on to the fence and jump clear. If you don’t second guess yourself, then your horse won’t either.

Another useful tip for corners, particularly at a lower level, is to aim for a point where the corner is ever so slightly wider than you would ideally like to jump. If you place too close to the narrow end, it becomes too easy for the horse to run out, but if you place at a point where the ‘V’ is a little wider, it provides an opportunity for the horse to drift slightly toward the narrow end without actually running out at the jump, thus giving the rider time to correct the line and avoid an error.

Cross Country Corner Jump

Cross Country Corner Jump

Those are just a few of the many tricky, dangerous jumps that eventers tackle in a cross country course. To find out more, read on in Cross Country 101 – Part 3!
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