With the eventing season well-and-truly over and winter weather taking a grip, if you want to cross-country school at the moment, the chances are most grass courses are closed. This means taking to an all-weather arena to hone your skills. Here are 5 useful tips on how to get the most out of simulated cross-country schooling.

  1. Think forwards

When riding in an arena, it is very easy to fall into the trap of riding backwards instead of forwards. Obviously the idea of cross-country is to ride in a forward, balanced rhythm and to complete inside the stated optimum time. Therefore, make sure your horse is switched on and geared up (as well as the rider!) from the start. Keep moving through corners and that your canter is of a good quality.

  1. Make it clear

Ensure you are very clear in communicating to your horse where you want to go and what you want them to jump. If you are practicing narrow fences, it is perhaps advisable to start from trot over small, technical questions to give your horse a chance to understand what you want. Repeat until your horse doesn’t waver on his line and feels totally confident — then you can build the question bigger.

  1. React

When cross-country schooling in a small area such as an arena, it is vital that your reactions are razor-sharp to avoid creating problems such as run-outs and refusals.

  1. Don’t dominate

It is important that you let your horse use himself and work out what to do once you get to the fence. It is also important that you don’t over-ride a distance or get hung up on strides — when out on a cross-country course, you will have to react to what is happening underneath you and whatever number of strides you had walked in a combination or related distance previously might be rendered pointless if things don’t go as you expected.

  1. Don’t be afraid to drop it back

If things aren’t going to plan, take a step back and rebuild confidence by making the question easier before re-asking.

Ready to enter an upcoming arena cross-country event? www.equoevents.co.uk has a wide range of events available to enter quickly and easily online.