Eventing videos 69 videos

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

Once you have introduced your horse to a ditch on its own, you can then begin to tackle a combination, such as a rail, ditch, rail.

You need to start out in a gentle way by jumping the ditch on its own at an angle. Follow this up by jumping the ditch and the rail out.

The biggest problem with these types of fences is that as the horse approaches the first rail, his eye is suddenly caught by the ditch. It is difficult for him to concentrate on both jumping the rail and worrying about the ditch.

Upon the approach, you will need to get the horse back into a short, bouncy canter stride, with plenty of energy in the stride, giving him time to see what is there, time to figure out what to do about it and then time to go and do it.

Be careful not to approach with too little pace as the horse is likely to stop as he is looking too much at the ditch.

The rider must keep their lower leg forward, sit up and get used to having the feel of having two thirds of the horse in front of them before the jump. This will help to react quickly to push the horse forward if they start backing off.

As soon as the horse lands over the first element, it is important that the rider is in balance, in case the horse spooks at the ditch.

To begin with, it’s nice to tackle a combination situated on flat ground, but eventually you will need to introduce a combination where the ditch is in a hollow from the first and second rails mostly if you are looking to ride at two-star level.

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.