Lucinda Green: a proper Badminton course — now let’s train for it! [H&H VIP]

  • With Badminton now having reasserted itself as the ultimate eventing challenge, hopefully the rightful influence of the cross-country phase will percolate downwards.

    This would enable competitors to come through the grades better prepared for the ultimate challenge, if indeed that is their goal.

    Eventing has for too long been dominated by the subjective phase of dressage, and by the showjumping. Horses have been bred, bought and trained with this change of emphasis in mind. That is not all bad , but there has been less regard for what makes a really solid top end cross-country horse — primarily class, strength of character and training.

    Cross-country is both an art and a science. It needs studying and developing just like the other two phases, and like them it takes time. In general, riders do not practise it nearly enough and often eventing seminars do not even feature the phase.

    Most of us see ourselves losing either in the dressage or the showjumping or both — and many cross-country courses are soft enough to encourage this self-perpetuating attitude.

    I have watched with fascination as the Germans have learnt to ride across country in the past 10 years — because they have studied it. They still, however, have to prove themselves over the sort of course we had on Saturday.

    If Badminton holds its nerve — and, yes, tweaks the course a little with the benefit of hindsight — we will have our sport back, with its heart firmly based in the reason everyone events in the first place.