- Shorten your stirrups. If they’re comfortable hacking to the meet, they’ll be too long when you get galloping and jumping. It will feel strange for the first hour, but bear with it!
- Keep the revs up into a fence, but remember that speed and revs are totally different.
- There’s nothing wrong with a good Pony Club kick. Use the back of the heel, not the ankle, at the girth. This is the only part of you that will create energy.
- Don’t drive with your seat; this flattens a horse out, making it difficult for him to jump.
- If you have to jump a ditch or bank from a standstill, then hold on to a neckstrap and be totally loose with the rein hand.
- Being in front of the movement is the worst sin across country. Keep your shoulders back over a fence. When did you last see someone fall off the back of a horse?
- Try not to hold on to your horse’s head coming into a fence or he will be unable to judge his own stride and he may well rush his fences. Bridge your reins if you find yourself interfering, or you’re riding a strong horse.
- Don’t over-complicate things. It is up to the horse to judge the distance to a fence; it is the rider’s responsibility to show the horse where to go, create the right amount of power, and then not interfere. Horses are better at judging distances than we are, so don’t make life harder for yourself by trying to take over.
This extract was taken from H&H’s cross-country special issue (6 October, 2011) which includes the best pre-hunting courses, advice on tackling your first hunt ride and places to go cross-country schooling this winter