Cross Country, Eventing
During an eventing competition there are three phases, the dressage, show jumping and cross country.
The size and technical difficulty of cross country fences fences will depend on the level you are competing at. In lower levels of competitions the jumps are often single fences allowing inexperienced horses or riders plenty of time to (hopefully) safely negotiate.
As the jumps increase in size so do the demands on the horse and rider with combination fences, angled fences and narrow fences often included to test the athleticism and accuracy of both horse and rider. The terrain and location that a jump is placed also plays a huge part in the technical difficulty of a fence, even a humble log fence can prove a challenge if positioned correctly!
The Cross Country Fences
The fences shown in the video are typical of a British Eventing novice cross country round where several single and combination fences have been included.
- Brush And Rail
Fence 1 is an inviting brush fence with a rail on top, this is a lovely fence to begin with as it is inviting and encourages the horse to get into a good rhythm and begin the round positively.
A solid bench or chair requires bold forward riding
and again assists the horse and rider to jump out of a good bold rhythm.
- Owl Hole
Brush owl holes typically jump very well with many horses neatly jumping through.
At novice level you will often have a variety of corners, in this case an enormous brush corner had to be jumped on ground that slightly sloped away afterwards.
These more difficult fences will often have alternative fences that can be jumped instead, however you will find that these alternative fences can increase the likelihood of obtaining time penalties as they are often positioned away from the direct route.
- Roll Top
Roll top fences are another inviting fence that encourage bold and forward riding.
Log jumps are another popular addition to many cross country courses, in this case the jump is called a hanging log as it is raised at either end leaving a gap underneath.
Although the majority of horses like to jump logs, the position of the log on a hill with other fences directly after it adds to the difficulty rating of this humble log fence.
Step fences are a great test for athleticism and require the horse to be forward thinking and agile. In the video the horse has to be quick thinking and forward as the steps are positioned after a hanging log and before a narrow brush arrowhead.
- Brush Arrow Head
Narrow fences also sometimes called "skinny fences" require great accuracy from both the horse and rider. In this case the brush arrowhead is positioned five strides after the steps so both horse and rider have to remain focussed and ride positively and accurately forwards.
- Arrow Head
A wooden arrowhead fence, generously positioned along a fence line.
- Water Jump
At novice level you will be expected to jump into and out of water, often with further fences either before or after.
In the video the horse and rider have to jump over a log positioned at the edge of a drop into the water jump before jumping up out over a step and over an inviting brush fence.
- Ditch and Wall
A great fence for a bold horse and rider, the difficulty with this fence is that where it is positioned the horses are going from light to dark and there is also another fence soon after it, so the horse has to quickly asses what it needs to do, in a forward thinking manner.
This time the log is positioned at the edge of the water jump, the difficulty with this fence is that the water jump is located in the shade so some inexperienced horses may find this fence more spooky that the previous one.
Brush fences are in most cases jumped very well and in this case a low brush fence out of the water allows horses an inviting jump out of water even if they have lost impulsion through the water itself.
Palisades are frequently used in competition and often ride very well. In this case they are also a great fence to finish on.
Cross Country Penalties
Penalties can occur for a number of reasons:
- 20 penalties - If the horse refuses, circles or runs out at an obstacle.
- 40 penalties - If the horse has a second refusal at the same fence.
- Elimination - If a third refusal at the same fence occurs.
- Elimination - If the horse refuses for the fourth time out on course.
- Elimination - If there is a horse fall.
- Elimination - Breaking a frangible pin.
- Elimination - Omitting a fence or jumping the wrong course.
- Elimination - Exceeding the time limit allowed.