Do you ever feel nervous before a cross-country competition or when you’re schooling over natural fences? I know I do! But, don’t panic, there are loads of ways you can build your confidence and perfect your XC skills at home, so soon you and your fave pony will be flying round courses with ease.
Get in position
Start by thinking about your cross-country position. In between fences you’ll need to get up off your pony’s back, which is called a forward seat. If you’re not balanced and secure when riding in a forward seat, you might feel as though you’re likely to fall off, which is an instant confidence knock.
Exercise: Practise your cross-country position
Once your pony is thoroughly warmed up, it’s time to practise your forward seat.
How to ride it…
Put up your stirrups at least three holes shorter than your flatwork length. This’ll make it easier for you to balance and maintain your position.
- Push your weight down through your knees and into your heels, and ask your pony to walk on.
- When you turn down the long side of the arena, pull your hips back so you’re standing in your stirrups. Look between your pony’s ears, so your back is straight, and keep your legs firmly against his sides, close to the girth.
- When you reach the short end of the arena, relax and sit back in the saddle. Then stand in your stirrups again down the next long side.
- Feeling confident? Have a go in trot and canter!
It may take a bit of practice before you’re totally secure in a forward seat. So, don’t worry if you feel a bit wobbly at first. Just relax and sit back in the saddle, then try again.
For more top advice from This Esme on riding cross-country fences confidently, pick up a copy of August PONY, on sale 3 July.