Many riders, even those competing at the top level, don’t have regular access to cross-country schooling facilities. Rather than let this stand in the way of your training, though, the key is to use the facilities you do have to replicate the questions you might find on course. This means that when you’re able to school over solid fences, you can use your sessions more productively because the basic skills are already in place.
This exercise is designed to introduce the concept of jumping on an angle, then helps you string angled fences together into combinations. The set-up offers a variety of ways to ride it, meaning you can keep testing and developing your horse’s skills in your training at home.
Set it up
What…Build a treble of uprights, with one stride (7.5–8m) between the first and second fences, and then two strides (11m) between the second and third. Put ground poles on both sides of each fence. Once you become more confident, you can change some or all of the uprights into square oxers.
Where…You can build this exercise on the centre line, or slightly off to the side. The key thing is to ensure you have enough space to ride around each fence and make smooth, sweeping turns on your approach and get-away.
Establish a canter that’s active without rushing. To do this, imagine your horse is a rubber ball and you’re bouncing him. If you want him to bounce higher, you don’t speed up your bouncing. Instead, you do it with more power. The same principle applies when your horse is cantering and jumping – that extra bounce is needed to get over the fence.
Start with the last part of the treble because there are no fences after it to accidentally lock onto, making it more obvious to your horse where he needs to go. Be very accurate in your approach, making sure his body is straight for at least a stride or two before take-off.
Because you’re changing reins, your horse needs to land on the opposite canter lead. To help him, look in the direction you want to go and open your hand over the fence. If he lands on the wrong leg, come back to trot and pick up canter again.
Find out more about how to teach your horse about angled fences in July Horse&Rider, on sale 30 May.