In Part 1 of Ryan Wood's series on building confidence over corners, he introduced us to the correct pace and rider position for jumping this type of cross-country fence. Then, in Part 2, he showed us how to build and jump a simulated corner in your arena in order to prepare your horse for the type of obstacle he'll be tackling on the course. In our final installment, we're finally ready for an actual corner on cross-country.
When is it Time to Move to Cross Country?
After enough jump schools in the arena with your horse jumping the simulated corner in both directions without a wing pole—he should be jumping without any hesitation—it’s time to head out on the cross-country course. Be sure to build your simulated corner so it will resemble the same height and width of the corner in your cross-country field. If you don’t have a corner at home, try and make sure the course you trailer to has good footing and isn’t too muddy so your horse won’t slip and lose confidence as he is still learning. Also ensure that your corner is staked into the ground so it can’t move if your horse knocks it with one of his legs. When you head out to a cross-country corner, bring a pole to create a wing on the corner and have your ground person place it on the tip of the corner at approximately a 110-
degree angle like you did in the ring.
Step 3: Jump a Cross-Country Corner
Understand that your aids play an all-important role in successfully jumping corners. If you canter down to the corner too fast, the horse can misread the question. If you come in too weak and on a loose rein, you increase your chance of a runout.
If a runout happens, think about what happened and why. Did you approach the jump on the wrong line, maybe at too severe an angle, so your horse didn’t understand the question? Were your hands not set wide enough to create a tunnel? Were you in a galloping position as opposed to a defensive seat? Did you have both legs firmly on your horse’s sides to encourage him to go forward?
If your horse runs out while schooling corners on cross country, bring the wing pole back to return him to familiar territory he understands. It’s also a good idea to jump another fence, like a table or log, that you know your horse will be confident over before coming back to the corner. This gets his mind back to thinking about going from one side of the jump to the other.
If you horse still runs out after bringing the wing pole back, it is often easier to fix the problem in the arena as opposed to on the cross-country course. Go back to repeating the earlier steps in this exercise there. Place a wing pole on the simulated corner in the arena, drop the front rail to the ground and then start over building it back up.
This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Practical Horseman.