Former World and European eventing champion Ginny Elliot argues that cross-country fences of the past and present pose completely different problems.

In the past the influential fences were enormous “rider frighteners” where horses were often expected to jump into space. Today the key test is how well one rides accuracy fences known as “skinnies” or “pimples”.

“It’s the difference between yelling: Aaaarrrrrgh! And exclaiming Oops!” according to Ginny.

Fences past

  • Water jumps which could be as deep as a horse’s withers
  • Fences without groundlines and poor take-off and landings which may disintegrate as the day went on
  • Flimsy fences which would look at home at a hunter trial

Fences present

  • Maximum permitted depth of water is 1ft 2in for internationals
  • Accuracy fences which are easy to “glance off”
  • Incredibly beautiful designs eg: Greek urns and fishing boats at the Athens Olympics

Ginny’s riders to emulate cross-country are:

  • Lucinda Green — “stood out for making a horse feel positive at the moment of take off”
  • Andrew Nicholson — “won’t allow his horse to contemplate stopping”
  • Pippa Funnell — “key to her success was learning to ride the last stride”

Don’t miss Ginny Elliot’s full feature in Horse & Hound, which is packed with fantastic photographs of fences past and present, on sale Thursday 18 October

  • Do you share Ginny’s views on the development of cross-country courses? Share your views in the H&H forum

If you liked this post why not read:

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Engine, line and balance plus the constant “channel” which comes from the rider keeping their leg on and riding forward into the hand, are vital for successful cross-country riding according to top event trainer Lucinda Green.

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Event riders come in all shapes and sizes — the trick is to find a way of making your shape work for you. Eventing legend Ginny Elliot explains how your body shape will influence your cross-country seat.