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

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: 1 August
Venue: Witham Villa Equestrian Centre, Leicester
Details: “This event goes up to a maximum height of 2ft3in.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated one-day event

Date: 4 August
Venue: Urchinwood Manor Riding and Event Centre, Bristol
Details: “This competition has classes from 50cm to 90cm with prizes and rosettes.”
Enter now

One-day event and show-cross

Date: 10 August
Venue: Redwoods Livery Yard, Beverley
Details: “This event has classes ranging from 50cm to 90cm with one-day event and show cross.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated one-day event

Date: 18 August
Venue: Philorth Estate, Fraserburgh
Details: “This event has classes from 50cm to 90cm.”
Enter now

One-day event

Date: 29 August
Venue: Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre, Cam
Details: “This open event features classes ranging from 20cm up to 85cm with some junior and senior sections.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated one-day event

Date: 7 September
Venue: Buryhill Competition Centre, near Swindon
Details: “This event features classes from 60cm to 90cm.”
Enter now

Mini one-day event

Date: 29 September
Venue: Cottingham Equestrian Centre, Yorkshire
Details: “This event has classes ranging between 50cm up to 85cm. The cross-country course does not include water complexes or ditches and rosettes will be awarded to sixth place with medals for first to third place.”
Enter now

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