Corner fences are a common element seen on nearly every cross-country course in America. Starting at Training level, horses and riders need to be prepared to answer the corner. When introducing riders and young horses to corners, I use the same approach each time, starting by building a simulated corner in the arena to introduce the concept and then move to jumping an actual corner on a cross-country course.
Whether you are training for dressage, show jumping or cross country, there is always a progression. You start with the basics and gradually work your way up, and it is no different when jumping corners. First, you need to have the correct seat, leg and hand aids in place, which I describe in the next section. Then you build confidence by jumping a simulated corner in the arena using a barrel and two standards, which will set you up for success when you leave the comfort zone of the arena and jump a corner on the cross-country course.
Jumping corners confidently starts with having the right canter. A corner is an accuracy test, and for these types of questions I like to tone down the between-the-fences gallop to a slower speed in the approach. You still want a forward, positive canter, but approaching at a slower pace gives your horse more time to see the fence and understand the question. Before working on the corner in the arena, practice this canter, focusing on your aids. The combination of seat, leg and hand aids you use approaching the corner will give your horse every opportunity to confidently jump it.
Step 1: Develop the Correct Canter
In Part 2, you'll learn how to build and safely jump a practice corner in your arena. This will help your horse understand the concept and gain confidence before heading out to school a real corner on the cross-country course.
Australian native Ryan Wood grew up in Pony Club and started competing in eventing at 8 years old. He purchased his first horse, an Australian Stock Horse named Countdown, through a local newspaper for $1,000. Ryan and Countdown moved up through the levels of eventing together, completing their first CCI**** at Adelaide when they were both 19 years old.
Ryan competed successfully throughout Australia, garnering top placings at Melbourne CCI***, Sydney CCI*** and Warwick CIC-W***. He trained with and worked for numerous top riders, including Australian eventer Guy Wallace, Olympic dressage trainer Norbert Van Laak and top champion show jumpers Ludger Beerbaum and Ernst Hofschroer.
Ryan moved to the United States in 2008 and started working for Bruce Davidson before moving to Phillip Dutton’s True Prospect Farm in Unionville, Pennsylvania. He now runs his own business out of True Prospect Farm. Since moving to the U.S. Ryan has become one of the top event riders in the country. In 2016 he won the Jersey Fresh CCI***, Bromont CCI*** and the USEA Adequan Advanced Gold Cup Final at the American Eventing Championships.
This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.