Cross country riding can be seen in British Eventing competitions, hunter trials, hunt races and any competitive competitions where the fences are solid and usually natural in construction.
The equipment for your horse will consist of items that can help protect the horse from injury and support the horse.
As you can see from the picture above you can come across different types of fences, drop fences like this one, water fences, table fences etc. They will all be solid with some frangible pins on the back rails to help if necessary.
Therefore, if you are going cross country you will need a forward cut saddle, bridle with a bit that helps with a stronger pace from the horse and boots for the horse and studs in their shoes.
Most riders will have a forward cut jumping saddle and ride shorter in their stirrup length than even their show jumping stirrup length. The picture above has a K2 jumping saddle which is an Albion make. I happen to like this make as it has a sensible length with the stirrups shorter and allows the rider’s thigh to be balanced and in place when jumping. I am a taller rider at 5’11” and as I have said before it is a personal thing that a rider will like a certain type of jumping saddle.
Some saddles have longer girth straps and have a shorter girth like a dressage girth. The idea of this is that you do not have all the buckles under your legs. Again this is a personal preference.
An over girth can be seen in the picture above but it is not done up. You can keep the over girth undone until you have the normal girth at the correct tension ready and then you can put the over girth in place. You have the over girth fitted over the saddle, under the stirrup tabs and through the loop in the breastplate where the normal girth goes through. The over girths are used in case the girth fails.
Prolite performance pads.
Prolite performance pads help when you are going cross country as they can take some of the strain of the rider having to move more in the cross country phase. Again it is the personal preference of the rider and trainer as to which make you might use.
Bridles and Bits.
Bridles and which bits to use depends on the combination of horse and rider. I have known a horse go cross country in a snaffle with no problem. It is usually the case that you have a slightly stronger bit for cross country, but again it depends on the rider and the horse and their ability and balance. The rules in British Eventing will tell you what types of bit you can use and what is not allowed.
A lot of horses wear a hunting breastplate, but others use a breast girth or a five-point breastplate. The five-point can be seen below and again it is a personal preference with the shape of the horse and what the rider and trainer are looking to achieve.
The top picture of ‘Lolly in her cross country kit’ has the new cross country boots which have cooling slots in them for air to flow through and keep the legs cooler. The hind boots also have a higher cover so that when the horse is galloping it cannot hit its self.
As you are riding as speed it is also a good idea to put overreach boots on your horse as well. This way they will have protection and stop any overreaches on their heel area.
Eventing grease can be applied to the forearms of the horse’s front legs and the stifle area of the hind legs. This will allow the horse to slip over a fence if he gets too close when jumping.
Studs for the horse’s shoes.
I have already written a blog post on different types of studs which you can access by clicking on the link here in this sentence. It is a good read and will give you some idea of the different types of studs for different purposes.
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