How to nail the cross-country optimum time: 6 tips from the top

  • Ahead of the start of the season this weekend, if you are going eventing, you will need to ride across country at a certain speed in order to achieve the optimum time. But how do you do it? How can you ensure you and your horse are travelling neither too slow nor too fast?

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

    1. Keep a good rhythm, being smooth on your approaches and riding tight lines is the foundation of achieving the time cross-country.

    2. Walking your course effectively is key. Make sure you know where the more intense areas are, so you know whether you need to look to make up time elsewhere on the course.

    3. Always know the optimum speed (metres per minute, mpm) of the level of competition you are doing — this will tell you the speed you should be aiming for.

    4. Where you can, make sure you wheel the course and take note of where your minute markers are.

    5. Wearing a stopwatch can be a helpful tool, but you need to know the rhythm you need to be in first. With our working pupils we practice wearing a watch at home and getting an idea of the pace they need to be at over a set distance.

    6. Having good feel and interfering with your horse as little as possible fundamentally allows for the correct balance and rhythm when tackling a cross-country course. If you can achieve this within the correct pace, these are all the key ingredients for getting within the optimum time.

    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…

    One-day event

    Date: 22 March
    Venue: Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre, Cam
    Details: “This event starts at 20-30cm and goes up to a maximum height of 85cm.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated and NSEA one-day event

    Date: 5 April
    Venue: Moreton Equestrian Centre, Dorchester
    Details: “This competition has classes from 60cm to 80cm.”
    Enter now

    One-day event

    Date: 12 April
    Venue: Foresterseat Cross Country, Perth
    Details: “This event has classes ranging from 50cm to 1.10m with qualifiers for the Connemara Eventing series too.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated one-day event

    Date: 10 May
    Venue: Forgadenny, Perth
    Details: “This open Pony Club event has classes from 80-85cm to 1.10-1.15m.”
    Enter now

    One-day event

    Date: 14 June
    Venue: Gloucester Lodge Farm, Blyth
    Details: “This open event features classes ranging from 60cm up to 90cm with a hunter trial too.”
    Enter now

    Mini one-day event

    Date: 28 June
    Venue: Rein and Shine Equestrian Centre, Wiltshire
    Details: “This event has classes ranging between 60cm up to 90cm.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated one-day event

    Date: 2 August
    Venue: Urchinwood Manor Riding and Event Centre, Bristol
    Details: “This event features classes from 50cm to 90cm.”
    Enter now

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

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