How to go cross-county this winter

  • If you want to keep your hand in once the eventing season is over, here’s a short guide on how to get started in other winter cross-country sports.

    Hunter trials

    At hunter trials each rider takes his or her turn around a cross-country course. Classes generally range from 70cm up to about 110cm and judging will be either on a bogey time, timed section or the fastest round. Some hunter trials will include going through a gate as well as jumps.

    There is no governing body – most hunts and Pony Club branches will run a hunter trial during the winter, as well as many equestrian centres and schooling courses. Pick up hunter trial schedules in your local tack store or contact your local Pony Club branch, riding club or hunt.

    Team chasing

    At a team chase, teams of four riders go round the course at the same time – the first three home count towards the team’s score. The tracks tend to be less demanding of accuracy than those used in modern eventing and require old-fashioned bravery.

    The governing body for affiliated events is the Masters of Foxhounds Association (MFHA) and there are three levels: novice (up to 3ft 3in), intermediate (majority at 3ft 6in, up to 3ft 9in) and open (no maximum, majority of obstacles over 3ft 6in).

    At the higher levels, the fastest team wins, but some events run fun classes judged on a bogey time. As well as the jumps, there is “the pen”, which three horses must be in together before the first jumps out. Visit www.teamchasing.co.uk for more info.


    If you want to try hunting, determine your local hunt from the Horse & Hound hunting directory (out 27 October), or online at www.mfha.org/hunts (foxhounds) or www.amhb.org.uk (harriers and beagles, click on “go hunting”).

    Telephone the hunt secretary to ask where and when the hunt meets, and whether you can come out – the hunt may have a newcomers’ meet – and how much you will have to pay (the cap).

    Horse & Hound’s beginner’s guide to hunting is packed with advice on what to wear, what to expect, how to prepare your horse and useful dos and don’ts.

    This information was first published in H&H (6 October 2011)

    You may like...