Cross Country Horse Riding


Cross country horse riding is an exciting and challenging sport. It requires a combination of skill, control and athleticism by both horse and rider. It tests the strength, endurance and agility of both horse and rider as they make their way across varied terrains.

Cross country horse riding is a great way to build a strong bond with your horse and explore the outdoors. It’s an adrenaline-filled sport that can provide endless hours of entertainment for horse riders of all levels.

History of Cross Country Horse Riding

Cross country horse riding is an equestrian discipline that has its roots in the military. It was originally developed to teach cavalry officers how to ride over all types of terrain, including difficult jump combinations and ditches. This style of riding requires good balance and strong control over the horse’s speed, giving it a unique challenge. Over time, this style of horse riding evolved into an equestrian sport with its own set of rules and regulations.

Crosscountry horse riding is one of the three main disciplines featured in showjumping competitions, along with dressage and showjumping itself. Each event involves jumping a combination of fences that may include sand traps, water hazards, stone walls, logs, wicker baskets and other natural or man-made objects located on a course designed to test the rider’s skill and their mount’s ability. Riders compete for points based on speed and accuracy in negotiating obstacles on the course within a specified time limit.

In recent years crosscountry has become increasingly popular as an amateur sport with events being held across the country at local venues such as equestrian centers or parks. It offers a unique way for riders to show their skill level while also providing them with an opportunity to challenge themselves on varying terrain while keeping their horses fit and healthy.

Benefits of Cross Country Horse Riding

Cross country horse riding is a thrilling and challenging sport that can provide riders with a wide range of physical and emotional benefits. Horse riding develops coordination, balance, strength, flexibility and confidence in riders. It allows horse and rider to network with nature in an exciting way and can also be used to improve communication between the two.

Additionally, cross country horse riding encourages physical fitness while being enjoyable at the same time. As you venture out on the trails you exercise your horse but also yourself! Riding outdoors strengthens muscles as it requires constant postural adjustments due to terrain changes. This helps give the rider a sense of pride in taking care of their mount, as well as becoming instilled with the feeling of well-being from the accomplishments of a long ride!

Cross country horse riding can also help develop great problem-solving skills in both riders and horses. When faced with uncertainties from undiscovered objects or traipsing steep terrain, both horse and rider must think smartly on how to tackle it safely together. In turn, this boosts concentration among older riders while honing leadership qualities amongst younger ones – sculpting them into responsible racers who will make smart decisions when faced with problems on course during competition!

Overall, cross country horse riding gives you the opportunity to connect with nature while providing an array of health benefits for both horses and its riders. This is not only a physical activity but one that sharpens mental acuity too – it should not be underestimated!


Cross country horse riding is a wonderful sport that requires the right equipment in order to be successful. Navigating the terrain with a horse can be done safely with the right riding clothes and tack. Here we will discuss the essential items that every cross-country rider should have in order to ride safely and comfortably:

  • Riding helmet
  • Riding boots
  • Riding gloves
  • Riding jacket
  • Riding breeches
  • Saddle
  • Bridle
  • Girth
  • Stirrups


When it comes to horse riding, choosing the right saddle is essential. Cross country riders need saddles that are comfortable and lightweight, while also being supportive and secure. Without the proper saddle, you may find yourself too uncomfortable to enjoy your ride or end up in an unsafe situation. Luckily, there are several types of saddles available to meet each rider’s needs:

  • English Saddles – designed for precise control and balance over long distances, English saddles give the rider a secure seat which allows them to shift their weight with ease as they move over uneven terrain.
  • Western Saddles – popular among cross country riders due to their durability and comfort, Western saddles are typically made from heavy-duty material such as leather or synthetic leather. Western saddles provide ample leg support for long rides and a high cantle for stability when moving over rough terrain.
  • Peruvian Saddles – Peruvian saddles tend to feature both an English-style cantle as well as a unique seat design that provides superior comfort and security. Riders can feel free to shift around in the saddle without fear of slipping out of position on bumpy ground.
  • Australian Stock Saddles – these types of saddles have been developed specifically for Australian Trail riders who focus on stopping power rather than speed – allowing them to maneuver quickly through dense forests with ease while still having optimal control over their horse’s movements at all times. Additionally, they usually feature stirrups on both sides, allowing riders with different leg lengths the opportunity to use the same saddle comfortably and securely at any speed or angle needed while riding cross country trails in Australia.


A bridle is a piece of essential riding equipment used to control and direct the movement and speed of the horse. A proper bridle will not only allow you to communicate effectively with your horse, but it should also provide them with comfort and security. For cross country riding, you will need to choose a specialized bridle that has additional features, like a wide noseband, additional buckles for adjustable fit, as well as chin straps, reins and cheek pieces all attached to the headpiece.

When selecting a bridle, consider what type of tack system your horse requires:

  • Full cheeked snaffle bits are best for horses who are just learning the basics or need more leverage control.
  • Eggbutt or loose rings are better for horses who have already gained some educational experience.
  • Straight arm Pelhams or Kimberley jointed bits can be helpful for horses needing greater communication.
  • Duttons can be used for reactive horses or those requiring an indented pressure system.

Another important factor to consider when buying your bridle is what materials it’s made from and how comfortable it is for your horse. Most bridles are made from leather or synthetic material. Synthetic options are usually cheaper than leather though if cared for properly can offer good performance in terms of strength and durability. Leather needs conditioning to avoid cracking; while correctly conditioned tack should last many years most experts suggest replacing nosebands after at least one season in-use.

Finally different designs often influence comfort; think about wider poll straps and adjustable padding on cheek pieces to ensure no rubbing occurs which may add further distraction during preparation time before cross country events!

Protective Gear

Thanks to advances in safety standards, protective gear is now an essential part of any cross-country horse riding activity. As well as a correctly fitted riding helmet – suitable for the type of activity you are taking part in – and correct footwear, you should also consider investing in other suitable body and limb protection.

These items of clothing might include:

  • Riding gloves: Strong and resilient, these can help riders maintain their grip on the reins.
  • Hat covers: Fitted over helmets to protect them from dust, dirt and water splashes.
  • Body protection vests/jackets: These are designed to cushion impact from falls. They often contain foam padding which helps absorb energy upon landing following a falls or jump.
  • Knee guards or pads: Worn inside riding boots or breeches, these pads offer additional protection to the knee area and can significantly reduce injury risk if you take a tumble on to hard ground or find yourself catching the edge of a jump.
  • Elbow guards or pads: Similar in design to knee guards, elbow protectors provide vital coverage when landing from jumping combinations which require wrong bends while galloping!


Cross country horse riding is a demanding and rewarding sport. Proper training is essential to ensure that both horse and rider are prepared for the cross country course.

Training for cross country should begin at home with basic training for the horse and rider. Groundwork, flatwork, obstacle training, and fitness building should all be a part of training.

Let’s explore the different aspects of training for cross country horse riding:

Developing Your Horse’s Skills

To improve your horse’s performance in cross country, the horse must have well-developed skills for jumping, negotiating obstacles, and maneuvering quickly. Exercise is not enough; drills specifically designed to develop specific skills can have a tremendous impact on your horse’s success.

As you work on developing your horse’s skills, it is important to ensure that the animal is relaxed and confident in its jumping style. General guidance includes teaching the horse to jump small fences slowly and with precision, emphasizing control and respect of the rider’s commands especially when turning or negotiating with tricky jumps. Learning patience and allowing time for the horse to process its environment will also help it understand your requests more readily.

To start training, begin small with low fences or poles on flat terrain. Introduce unfamiliar jumps such as logs and ditches carefully to ensure that the horse is comfortable with their setup. When introducing more difficult types of gates such as a spread or water fence, start from a distance so that the animal can become accustomed to them before making contact; allow plenty of breaks during this period! Additionally, practice riding tight corners at different speeds while using transitions between gaitsing sharply down in stride length over certain obstacles or lines of fences.

Have fun while you train; success will be achieved faster if neither you nor your horse are overwhelmed by expectations! Developing Your Horse’s Skills takes time but it will ultimately yield success over cross country courses provided that you take into consideration your animal’s stage of development along with skill level needed for each competition class.

Developing Your Riding Skills

Cross country riding involves navigating a series of obstacles that you must navigate in the fastest time possible. Over time and with practice, you will become comfortable with a variety of techniques and approaches intended to improve your speed and accuracy in tackling the course. Here are some best practices for developing your cross-country riding skills:

  1. Master the basics: Before attempting any challenging courses, make sure you have mastered basics such as walk-trot transitions, proper turns, leg positioning, and straightness throughout the course. This will set you up for success as more advanced obstacles become part of your schooling routine.
  2. Understand how to manage tempo: As you move through an obstacle course, it’s important to know how to adjust your horse’s tempo when needed while maintaining control of your ride. This is particularly important during timed events when speed must be adjusted or when faster movements are required to safely complete obstacles within a set timeframe.
  3. Build up confidence: To perform successfully on a cross country course, riders require confidence in their abilities so that they don’t become overwhelmed by fear or anxiety during their rides. As such, “brave” practice should take place on safer courses so that both horse and rider can conquer their fears as they move up through the levels of competition together.
  4. Improve your flexibility: When riding a cross country obstacle course it’s valuable to cultivate an elastic upper body that can respond quickly to whatever situation may arise in the ring of competition – this requires good muscular flexibility and strength coupled with focused control over movement and breath – all core elements that contribute heavily towards achieving success at higher levels of competition where more physical demands will be placed upon rider and horse alike!


Cross Country Horse Riding is an exhilarating sport with a deep and long history. Riding Cross Country requires a combination of technical and physical ability, as obstacles come and go along the trail.

If you are looking to learn how to ride Cross Country, the best way to start is by attending a Cross Country Riding Course. This is an introductory course that will provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the sport.

Course Design and Layout

Designing and laying out a cross-country horse riding course requires careful consideration and knowledge of current regulations. It is important to recognize the physical abilities of the horses that will be attempting the course, in order to create a safe and enjoyable experience for both horse and rider. Here are some factors to consider when designing a cross-country course.

  • Course Type: Cross-country courses vary based on the age, breed and experience of both the horse and rider. Course difficulty is also determined by type – training, novice or open – so it is important to know how ambitious you’d like your competition or event to be.
  • Course Length: Courses typically span between 2km and 3km in length, though this can vary depending on rider capability as well as local legislation. Utilizing space efficiently is key when planning an event so it’s important to understand how much ground you can cover within your given area while still remaining challenging enough for all entrants.
  • Number Of Fences: Fences typically range from around 10-20 altogether on a course, with 15 being the average number seen in most events across disciplines. These fences are then split into two categories – those where riders jump directly into water or up steep banks or hills (ditch combinations), as well as regular jumps which require less energy output from horses but can still present their own challenges such as incredibly tight turns or narrow corner fences.
  • Fence Decoration: Creating an aesthetically pleasing yet safe course is paramount for any competition – decorative poles should add colour but also provide clear visibility for riders jumping each fence whilst small mounds of flowers enhance appearances themselves; providing additional difficulty should never be done at the expense of decreased safety.

Types of Cross Country Obstacles

Cross country obstacles generally fall into several categories, including “natural” features such as ditches, banks, hedges and water; fixed obstacles such as tables and fences; and miscellaneous effects. The purpose of cross country competitions is to test the horse’s jumping ability, endurance and bravery in a safe environment.

Natural obstacles include ditches, banks and water. These are the most commonly found features on cross country courses and vary in size, depth and length depending on the level of competition being ridden. Ditches can be filled with mulch or water to add an extra challenge. Banks may be built from railway sleepers or tarred logs to resemble natural terrain. Water jumps can range in size from large ponds with high banks for higher levels of competition all the way down to smaller water complexes more suitable for lower levels of competition.

Fixed obstacles vary greatly in height, width and construction material depending on level of competition but generally feature wood or plastic boards arranged into various shapes (such as tabletops or double fences). When building tables (sets of two fences spread apart by a number of strides) generally each fence will have height restrictions that must be adhered to. For instance an elementary table typically has a maximum fence height of 1m20cm (3ft 9ins).

Miscellaneous effects are all obstacles that don’t fit into one of the above categories such as climbs (a short wall built from bricks) or bales of straw lying on the ground which must be jumped across by the horse/rider combination like any other obstacle. These can provide a great challenge for lower level competitors who need to start out jumping small obstacles before progressing onto more challenging tests with higher jumps.


Cross country horse riding is a thrilling sport, but safety should always be at the forefront of your considerations. While riding a horse cross country, you need to ensure that you, your horse, and anyone else participating in the ride are protected from any potential hazards.

In this section, we’ll discuss the safety precautions you should take when riding cross country, and how you can best prepare for a safe ride:

Proper Safety Equipment

Cross-country horse riding is an exhilarating and rewarding way to enjoy the outdoors, but it can also be a dangerous activity if the proper safety measures are not taken. Before riding, always ensure that you and your horse are properly outfitted with the necessary safety equipment.

For yourself, a properly fitting riding helmet that meets all ASTM/SEI standards is essential. A correctly fitted helmet can help protect you from severe head trauma in the event of a fall or collision with a stationary object. In addition, body protection apparel like vests and air jackets can help absorb the impact of falls and protect your internal organs in case of an accident.

For your horse, it’s important to provide them with safety equipment as well. Safety wear items like boots and hoof pads are designed to protect the hooves from sharp objects or sudden twists during your ride. To further reduce any risk of injury, it’s recommended that you use protective leg wraps on all four legs prior to riding. Finally, reflective tape or stickers should be used when riding at night or under low light conditions to increase visibility for both horse and rider.

Taking proper precautions before, during and after your ride will greatly increase the chances for a safe experience for both you and your horse.

Best Practices for Cross Country Riding

Cross country horse riding can be a rewarding and enjoyable activity, provided you take proper safety precautions. Following these best practices will help keep you and your horse safe while on the trail.

  • Proper Equipment: Be sure that you are equipped with all of the necessary protective gear before setting out on the trail, including a properly fitted helmet and safety vest. The right footwear, such as boots or shoes with a heel, is also important for guarding against slips at high speeds.
  • Conduct Check: Prior to taking off, it is always a good idea to perform a safety check of both yourself and your horse. Make sure that all straps and buckles are securely in place before saddle up. It is also important to check the girth to ensure that it is snugly fit against your horses’ stomach.
  • Proper Training: Proper training can help reduce the chance of accidents during cross country horse riding, so make sure to brush up on safety protocol with an instructor prior to taking off on the trail alone or in groups. Additionally, never take on terrain or jumps too difficult for your skill level and always be aware of new potential hazards along the way such as ruts or wires strung across gates leading off into different fields.
  • First Aid: Being knowledgeable in basic first aid techniques could potentially save lives should something go wrong while out in the field. Keep a small first aid kit prepared with supplies such as gauzes, bandages, splints, medications and antiseptic along with you during each ride to ensure immediate access when needed.

Following these best practices for cross country riding will help ensure an enjoyable experience for both you and your horse each time out on the trail.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What is Cross Country Horse Riding?

A1: Cross Country Horse Riding is a type of equestrianism eventing where riders and horses have to complete a course of obstacles that are spread out over a large area and typically found in the countryside.

Q2: What is the purpose of Cross Country Horse Riding?

A2: Cross Country Horse Riding tests the horse and rider’s athletic ability, endurance and control. It is also an exciting form of competition where riders are judged on their performance.

Q3: What equipment is needed for Cross Country Horse Riding?

A3: Cross Country Horse Riding requires a helmet, boots, body protector, saddle, bridle and stirrups. You may also need spurs, gloves and a whip depending on the event.