“Cross country is a continuation of what we’ve been doing: it’s all about the rider’s responsibilities, knowing how to jump different kinds of jumps, and being able to adjust your horse’s stride to be appropriate.”
The rider uses three positions in XC: the “cruising” or galloping position, the preparation or “balancing” position, and the jumping position.
In the galloping position, there are three points of contact:
- Your foot is further in the stirrup iron
- Your knees are pushed into the knee rolls
- Your reins are in a single bridge just above the horse’s withers.
How “scruntched” you are in your galloping position depends on how fast you’re going, if you have hills, etc.
EVERY jump needs preparation! Horses need to “load the hock” to be able to jump well.
How far from the jump do we prepare? Depends on how long it takes your horse to come back/get into balance. If it’s MORE time, start earlier! Twelve or more strides out.
Here is what we need to be doing before each jump:
- Let go of the bridge
- Raise the center of gravity by “opening the sail”
- Slightly raise hands—but still just above the withers
- IF NECESSARY, if your horse isn’t coming back, you may have to use leverage to get your horse to come back to you.
The jumping position is a “C”: you “hide your belly button behind your belt”.
Don’t forget to ROW, to ride forward to the jumps.