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The British eventing squad’s chef d’equipe, Yogi Breisner talks us through how to use your horse’s canter gears while going cross-country, with the help of four-star event rider, Laura Collett.

Cross-country riding lessons with Yogi Breisner: canter gears

Riding cross-country is a bit like driving a car in that you need to be in the correct gear for what is ahead of you.

If you are tackling a straightforward, large fence, you want the horse to continue to gallop and jump out of his stride, with the rider in a light, forward position but with security in the lower leg so that you don’t waste too much time or energy of the horse by making a lot of adjustments.

Barbury International Horse Trials on 11 07 2015

If you are approaching a more tricky fence, you need to change down the gears. The gear you switch down to depends on the severity of the line or combination ahead of you.

Don’t forget that once you have changed gear, to ride forward in that rhythm, not backwards so that you are best placed to jump what is ahead of you.

Cross-country riding is eesentially split into three sections:

  • The time in between fences where you treat your horse a little like a racehorse and make use of gallop
  • Preparation for the jump
  • The jump itself

The rider’s responsibility is to put the horse in balance, establish the correct speed, going in the correct direction.

Look out for more expert advice on cross-country riding from Yogi Breisner, brought to you in association with NAF, on the Horse & Hound website during the next few weeks.