Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Talking Tactics; Walking the Cross Country Course

So you have arrived at the event, checked and watered your horse, and collected your number. Now to walk the cross country course at breakneck speed! From the May issue of Equine, Caroline Mosley (pictured) shares some practical advice from her regular 'Talking Tactics' column…

Occasionally at an event local to you, the cross country course can be walked the day before competition day, but as with most things, there are advantages and disadvantages to this!  The advantages to walking the course at a time of ‘no pressure’ are that you can spend longer reviewing approaches and working out where to save time. The disadvantage is that you spend the night before your competition day fretting over the odd jump or two! 

Whatever day I’m walking, whether it is the day before or on the day, I find taking photographs of each fence to be helpful when going back over the course later on.  I do use the Cross Country App for walking as it also maps out my minute markers and pictures of the fences are logged so you can see a map with jumps. 

At the start of the course walk, check the colour of fences you are jumping, and the number of fences.  There are often some ‘black flag’ alternatives, so have a look and check where they may be on the course as it can be easy to miss them. 
(Black flagged fences are indicated by a black line on the fence flags, it means there is an easier, alternative fence you can jump, which takes longer in time – check the rule book for further info)

At the start, check the start box, have a look at the optimum time, the number of fences and where the start box is in relation to the warm up.  Sometimes it can be miles away and other times you will be galloping past the warm up on your approach to fence 2, which can cause a horse to nap, so its good to know the layout as you can then can make a plan in advance (such as asking someone to help walk the horse over to the start box, or riding a bit wide past the warm up when on the course).

In the start box, have a look ahead at your first fence; is it close to the start or a decent gallop away?  Think about how you will start. Galloping through the start box as the starter counts down isn’t really safe, so you should always plan to be setting off at a standing start, or moving at a walk/trot.

Walking up to the first fences, look ahead for the next one, if you can’t see it, look at the rope to see the direction.  I have walked a course in beautiful parkland, but it wasn’t roped and finding the next fence was quite difficult!  I ended up walking the course twice to make sure I knew which hillock to ride towards and despite doing this, I still got ever so slightly lost heading towards the last few fences, costing me a few time faults!

When I walk between the fences I look behind me at the one I have just jumped; sometime you can see ground undulations you never saw before, and also what line you will be galloping on.  Looking ahead at the fence coming up, I assess whichever one I am jumping (is it the middle one in a line of fences for example) to make sure that, in the event a number has come off, I still know which one to jump!  Sometimes they look quite similar in size and it can be difficult.  Often in this case BE will flag off the fence you should avoid, but occasionally I have come up to a group of fences to find no number on mine (it was a corner and had been knocked off by a previous rider) and the choice of three fairly similar fences to jump! Cue panic, on fast approach! 

As you walk the course, have a think about each fence and why it has been positioned where it is.  A corner on a curve is asking for rider navigation error so think about keeping control of the shoulder and the curve you plan to ride to give you and the horse the best possible chance to jump the correct side of the flags!  A jump going into trees is likely to make a young, inexperienced horse back off and may need to be ridden more strongly on the approach to it. 

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Walk the course exactly where you will be riding and if you make a mistake walking it then go back and walk the line again, including from the approach of the fence before.  Safe riding is important, so walking the cross country and working out where you are going along with what approaches you will use, will improve both your own and your horse’s safety. Stop after walking a few fences and go through the course so far in your memory – I say things to myself such as:

Fence 1 – log, straight onto fence 2 - table, turn left over hill to 3ab, hanging log to skinny etc; close your eyes and imagine the fences so that you memorise them.  If there is a particular turn where I may end up the wrong side of the flags, I repeat this several times to myself - ‘fence 7 turn left, fence 7 turn left, fence 7 turn left’ so it becomes a bit of a mantra. Recently at Forgandenny, fence 7abc was a coffin complex with a left turn afterwards. The 90/100 class went to the right of the string and the my Novice class to the left.  It was so easy to go the wrong side, so I told myself this mantra for half of my walk on the way to fence 8!  I went through the course from fence 1 to fence 7 to remind myself of this, as it could have been an easy time wasting error. I’m pleased to say I went left of the string!!

Striding the distances takes practice, but knowing your stride length can be done simply at home and is useful when walking the cross country course. Does the striding mean you need more of a showjumping canter or does it mean you can push forward?  Coming from a showjumping background I find combinations much easier than single fences (oddly), although I tend to ‘show jump’ them to make sure and then have to make up my time afterwards.   

When walking the cross country, try not to get distracted. This is easily done and very annoying! Last year at Floors Castle I committed this cardinal sin and got distracted by a lovely dachshund  when walking the cross country, only to lose concentration, so I didn’t notice the swerve needed to get to fence 16.  Sailed on past it I did - and it cost us a place with a big fat ‘E’ on my horse’s record. Annoying and easily avoided! It’s a mistake I will not be repeating in a hurry!  In all my years of eventing it is the first time I have done this and it will hopefully be the last! It was positioned to be a rider error fence and I fell right into it! (not literally!)

When the fences get bigger, I tend to walk the cross country twice.  If you feel the course you are walking is ‘ginormous’, it’s often better to do a second walk.  The course never looks as bad a second time, as you can assess your lines, the ground and approaches again when you see them on a second turn.  Occasionally I have walked 3 and 4 times, but this is usually at a 3 day when we have lots of time to walk the dogs!

Just before I get on to head over to cross country, I have a quiet moment to go through the course.  I go through it in my memory then check it against my cross country app and the notes of the minute markers.  I have always written the markers on my arm too in case I forget on the course.  When going through the course in my memory I add in the minute markers. I often don’t check them at every one, but it’s good to know them so that I can check when it’s convenient.  Obviously if your minute is over a fence it would be daft to check it, but you can have a look as you gallop away to see if you are a few seconds up or down.  Be sensible with minute markers and ride the horse, not the time. 

Lastly, if you are feeling nervous in the warm up, jump the fences that you feel comfortable to jump.  Even if it’s just a single log, get the gallop going and jump it on a normal stride, longer stride, shorter stride, at an angle etc.  You don’t have to jump every fence in the warm up.  If you are jumping at the higher levels its useful to jump a couple of angles or the skinny in the warm up to make sure your communication is working. Pull up, give the horse chance to get his breath back, memorise the course again, take deep breaths and make your way to the start box for an awesome round! 

I hope you find this useful, If you are ever at an event and unsure of how to ride something, ask a fellow competitor, I’ve found most eventers are friendly and helpful and will offer their input if you ask for it.  I am also happy to help, so if you see me in orange, with my Labrador (aka Chief water-jump-depth-tester) then do ask.

Spring Casual Wear on Test

There are certain occasions when one needs to be clothed in something casual, but also smart. This usually sees us manically pulling items out of the wardrobe, looking and going ‘no that won’t do’! In this issue our panel of testers have been trying some amazing pieces of clothing and footwear, which will take you from the yard to the shops, or even out walking the dog with style!!
Here's just a taster of two fabulous ideas - you'll find 17 more in the May issue of Equine.

Equisafety – Charlotte Dujardin Arret Waistcoat
The company says: Lightweight, breathable and waterproof fabric, featuring a two-way zip, two hidden side pockets, open back vents for ease of use while in the saddle, gorgeous designer lining and the not to be forgotten sparkling silver reflective stripes which sweep across the shoulders and curve beautifully down the sides offering a figure-hugging illusion. Oh, and don’t forget that iconic CD logo which is ‘reflectively’ featured on the front and again on the back! Orange/Red, Pink and Yellow. Sizes: XS (6-8); S (8-10); M (10-12); L (14-16): XL (16-18); XXL (18-20). RRP: £49.99. www.equisafety.com
Our tester, Clare Chappelhow, says: This company has taken the high vis tabard/waistcoat into another league and this one is designed to be stylish along with its safety features to be seen, whilst riding. It is very comfortable to wear with an easy two way zip fastening at the front, along with two very useful, discreet side zip pockets. Everything a rider requires in a smart high-vis waistcoat! Whilst I was hacking along a farm track, a tractor was working in the field alongside, and because I was visible through the trees, he waited till I had passed before continuing his work; how thoughtful. True to size so when you choose yours, decide what you will be wearing the waistcoat over. I was given a medium size to try, which was fine over my thick ski jacket, but when we had a brief spell of spring weather and I wore a lighter weight jacket under it, it allowed the Helm wind to have a bit of fun, which was not the best idea, when I was riding ‘nervous nelly’! So I may have to purchase a smaller size for safe summer riding on the young inexperienced horses! I think this is an essential wardrobe item for any rider wishing to be safe, seen and smart whilst out riding.

SSG –Rancher (Unlined) Gloves

The company says: Deerskin outers are perfect for riding and working on the yard. There are no finger seams on the palm side therefore giving a more comfortable feel. An elasticated wrist to keep the warm air out and cool air in. Natural, Black, Acorn. Sizes: 6-12. RRP: £44.00. Stockists – www.mackey.ie

Our tester, Rob Williams, says: I have to say that these are just the most comfortable gloves ever. They feel lovely and soft and the elasticated wrist makes putting them on, or taking them off, really easy. I’ve worn these in all weathers and they maintain their good rein grip which is so important. Amazingly they are machine washable, which is a real bonus, and they haven’t shrunk or become stiff when dry, which is a usual problem. And they don’t make your palm sweat either. Fabulous gloves and I can see me buying more, and possibly other styles too!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

40% off ArcEquine upgrade

Microcurrent technology company Applied Microcurrent Technology (AMT) is offering 40% off the cost of a new ArcEquine complete kit to all owners of the ArcEquine1 who would like to upgrade their units to the current ArcEquine model or to one of the human units, Arc4Health and Arc4Sports.
The company confirms that the upgrade discount will apply even if the ArcEquine1 unit to be upgraded is no longer in full working order, as Managing Director Ian Thirkell explains: “Our ongoing investment into research and development led to the introduction of the current ArcEquine unit in 2015 and whilst the older ArcEquine1 is no less effective, the ease of use and convenience of the newer units have led to a number of owners asking us about an upgrade.
“Increasing sales, along with our genuine commitment to customer service, now enable us to offer a significant discount to these earlier customers, regardless of the condition of their ArcEquine unit.”
The upgrade cost to a new ArcEquine is £269.99 + p&p, which is 40% off the full price of a new ArcEquine complete kit. (£449.99 + p&p). Simply returning the ArcEquine1 control unit and the separate delivery unit to the AMT office will qualify its owner for the discounted upgrade offer.
More details, including upgrade options to the new human units, are on the website at www.arcequine.com or from the AMT office on 01580 755504.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

ArcEquine price reduction follows strong growth

As the main competition season gets into full swing, sales of ArcEquine microcurrent units have grown very rapidly and the good news is that associated economies of scale have contributed to a significant reduction in the price of an ArcEquine complete kit. This makes it easier for every horseowner to access this innovative technology, which has the potential to deliver wide ranging health and wellbeing benefits.

In line with its rapidly accelerating growth strategy, manufacturer Applied Microcurrent Technology (AMT) recently launched a new microcurrent unit into the human health sector - the Arc4Health - and sales have quickly exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts, further supporting the ArcEquine price reduction.
Additional short-term expansion plans include four European territories, both North and South America, Australia and New Zealand, together with signing new distribution agreements in most markets.
The sequences of unique microcurrents delivered by the ArcEquine are the result of AMT’s technical expertise and significant investment into its research and development programme. So whether your horse has an injury, or you simply want to ensure niggles don’t develop into dramas, there’s never been a better time to take a close look at ArcEquine. Also beneficial in maximising training and competition performance, it’s the drug-free, non-invasive, pocket sized device increasingly used by successful riders around the world to deliver powerful and effective healing.
The new price, from June 5th, 2017, for an ArcEquine complete kit is £449.99,reflecting the company’s unquestionable integrity in delivering outstanding value for its technically excellent products, supported by exceptional and completely individual customer service.
Visit ArcEquine's secure online store at www.arcequine.com - and don't forget to use discount code AE5012 at the checkout for a £45 discount, meaning you pay just £404.99 + p&p!
Payment and rental plans are also available and a number of leading insurance companies will fund hire of units to support healing of equine injuries, subject to individual policy terms.

ArcEquine #everyhorseshouldhaveone