It is very important, in any discipline that you choose to ride in, that you know which gears you will need in order to successfully complete a dressage test, showjumping round or course of cross-country fences.
When riding across country you shouldn’t ride every type of fence from the same type of canter — different types of fence will require a different speed or gear in order to jump them cleanly. Practice riding through the different gears at home to develop feel before applying them to fences.
Once you are ready to add fences, a good way of practicing moving between the gears is to build an upright fence to a triple bar, to another upright fence six or seven strides apart from one another.
First gear — trot
You might find you need to use trot on a cross-country course in order to pop neatly off a drop fence. You will also need to use a lot of trot over many different types of fence with a young horse such as ditches, steps and water
Second gear — “coffin” canter
This is a canter with a condensed stride length but it is full of energy. Use this canter where you need your horse to be sat on his hocks to give him time to see a tricky question such as a sunken road, ditch or water that isn’t clear to see upon the approach. This way they are more likely to read the fence and make a clean jump.
Third gear — showjumping canter
This gear is self-explanatory and is the same as that used when jumping a course of showjumps. The canter is forward and balanced without the stride being too long. You might use it for upright rails in a related distance, for example.
Fourth gear — jumping gallop
This is the speed at which you will jump straightforward cross-country fences from such as roll tops, brush fences and spreads. It is still balanced and able to be adjusted very quickly. It is not top speed.
Fifth gear — top speed
This is the cruising speed in-between fences. It isn’t usually jumped out of and horses must be ready to adjust to a lower gear at any given moment.
Fancy putting your gears into practice? Search upcoming events at www.equoevents.com