It’s a good idea when introducing sunken roads, if you can, walk down a sloped side of the combination so that the horse can have a look at where he is going to be jumping in and out of, before actually involving a step in. After he has had a look at the bottom of the road, jump out by going up one side of the combination.
Then, if possible, jump down just one side, so the horse gets used to jumping into the sunken road without worrying about the other elements.
Once the horse is happy with jumping the steps in and out of the sunken road together, then move on to start jumping through all of the elements involved with the combination, such as rails before and after.
If possible, start with the latter part of the line. i.e jump just the sunken road plus the rail out first.
Once you have mastered all of the elements, this is where being able to put the horse into the correct gears comes into play.
Jumping the first rail requires the horse to have time to see what he has to do. But don’t come so steadily that the horse hesitates and stops.
To avoid this, get the horse back to a short, bouncy canter with plenty of power in the pace a few strides away from the fence. The rider needs to sit up and keep the leg on and forward.
Look out for more expert advice on cross-country riding from Yogi Breisner, brought to you in association with NAF, on the Horse & Hound website during the next few weeks.