Yogi Breisner: How to tackle water when riding cross-country

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The British eventing squad’s chef d’equipe, Yogi Breisner talks us through how to ride a water jump while going cross-country, with the help of four-star event rider, Laura Collett.

The water jump often attracts a lot of spectators for both the spectacle and the possibility of seeing a rider get wet!

The cross-country course designer often puts a lot of different kind of fences in connection with the water jump.

From an education point of view, it is a type of fence that you need to spend a great deal of time on with your horse.

Horses by nature can be a little reluctant to go into water as they don’t know how deep it is or whether there are crocodiles lurking in there! Therefore it the rider’s job to build their confidence by repeatedly and gently taking them into and out of the water at a walk. This will help them get used to the splash and confidence in the knowledge that there are no big holes for the to suddenly disappear into.

Once the horse has got the confidence to walk around in the water, you can then begin to introduce jumping.

You need to ride a water fence in the same kind of way you would a sunken road, rails to ditches and drops so that you can give your horse time to see what they have to do.

It is important to remember not to ride so fast into the water that the drag makes the horse stumble.

Approach in a short, controlled canter with plenty of energy in the stride to keep it punchy without going too fast.

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.