Don’t lose your cool — how to survive the cross-country start box

  • If you are going eventing, you will encounter a cross-country start box. It’s an area with a real buzz of excitement about it, both for horse and rider. So how can you help keep a lid on your nerves and your horse’s excitement?

    Here’s some helpful pointers from New Zealand international event rider, Jesse Campbell (pictured), who has several three- and four-star completions to his name:

    1. It’s so important to keep yourself relaxed. Try asking the starter how their day is going or make a joke with them. Horses pick up on how you’re feeling.

    2. Keep a longer rein. Allowing the horse to have its head will help them stay relaxed.

    3. Walk backwards and forwards through the start box so the horse gets used to being around the box and that it’s no big deal when you enter to start your round.

    4. Enter the start box from the front. This will stop the horse rushing through and getting upset.

    5. Get used to how long it takes to turn your horse around in the box. Five seconds is a long time and horses can get tense if they have to stop while being counted down.

    6. Keep a slow pace to the first fence. If you come out of the box like a bullet, the horse will learn this and it will be very difficult to get them to settle.

    Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these eventing competitions available to enter where you can put this advice into practice…

    Pony Club one-day event

    Date: 8 July
    Venue: Portman Hunt Pony Club, Chisel Farm, Blandford Forum
    Details: “This fun and friendly one-day event is in a beautiful farmland setting. It is open to Pony Club members and non-members with classes ranging from 60cm to 1m.”
    Enter now

    Pony Club one-day event

    Date: 8 July
    Venue: South Shropshire Hunt Branch of the Pony Club, Berriewood Farm, Shrewsbury
    Details: “This competition has classes from 70cm to 90cm and is run over a modified British Eventing course. It is open to Pony Club members and non-members.”
    Enter now

    The Hannah Francis one-day event

    Date: 15 July
    Venue: Mendip Plains, Radstock
    Details: “We look forward to welcoming you to this event, which is being held to recognise Hannah’s courage, determination and inspiration in her battle with bone cancer, and to celebrate her love of horses, and eventing in particular. This event will be run aid of Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony charity. The showjumping will be on an artificial surface and there are 70, 80 and 90cm classes.”
    Enter now

    Mini one-day event and fun eventing

    Date: 22 July
    Venue: Stantons Wood, Derbyshire
    Details: “This event offers classes ranging from 30 to 80cm. The fun eventing consists of one course of approximately 14 jumps — half showjumps and half working hunter style jumps — and is one continuous course. The mini one-day event includes the jumps as above and a dressage phase too.”
    Enter now

    Showjumping training with Jesse Campbell

    Date: 23 July
    Venue: Lyneham Heath Equestrian, Oxfordshire
    Details: “Jesse is a New Zealand Eventing High Performance squad rider, and Nations Cup team member based in the UK. Whether you are wanting a quick brush up on your pole work, or looking to take your jumping to the next level, Jesse will give you all the tools needed to reach your goals and make sure you enjoy every second of it. Group lessons are available for showjumping on the all weather arena at Lyneham Heath Equestrian. All abilities are welcome — book as a group or an individual and we will place you in a group according to your ability. Maximum of four per group.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated one-day event

    Date: 5 August
    Venue: Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre, Cam
    Details: “This is an open event, where a warm welcome awaits you. Classes range from lead-rein and mini assisted and mini adults with fence heights between 20-30cm, up to 85cm with junior and senior sections.”
    Enter now

    One-day event

    Date: 12 July
    Venue: Mullacott Event Centre, Illfracombe
    Details: “This will be our first one-day event at Mullacott and classes will range between 60cm and 90cm.”
    Enter now

    Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings

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