There are many cross-country riding errors that can be seen all too frequently, particularly at lower levels of eventing — too fast, too slow, bumping up and down in the saddle or jumping fences at obscure angles.

Inappropriate riding not only inhibits our chances of success, but also compromises the safety of both horse and rider. So how can we avoid making these mistakes?

How to avoid the most common cross-country errors

• Build up fitness and core strength to help improve security in the saddle: consider other forms of exercise if you only ride one horse a day

• Try to learn (through a British Eventing coaching development team [CDT] workshop or with your trainer) the required speeds for BE90 and BE100 so you start to develop a natural feel for pace and distance

• Learn the different gears required for each type of fence — this can be done off the horse in a classroom environment. The CDT workshops include these important theory sessions

• Increase your speed gradually as you gain confidence and experience — speed is the last thing to add into the cross-country equation

• Walk the line you plan to ride, don’t just take the shortest line from fence to fence. When you commit the course to memory, think about how you need to approach each fence rather than simply memorising the numbers of the jumps

For more on common cross-country errors and how to avoid them, see the eventing special issue of Horse & Hound (25 March, ’10) — OUT TODAY