Jun 17, 2022

Nine Cross-Country Rituals to Help Get Your Head in the Game

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo

If there is one thing that every event rider can relate to, it’s that combination of nerves and excitement and anticipation that comes in the form of pre-cross-country jitters. For some riders, that energy is best unleashed on the gallop out of the start box, while others need to find ways to unwind before they make their way out of the barn. We asked members of the USEA membership to chime in on their favorite pre-cross-country rituals that help them get ready to gallop across the country at each event.

Mandated Mantras

Aiden S: “My mantra is ‘strong, capable, brave’ and I tell my horse over and over that I will not ask him to do anything that I don't think he can do.”

Caitlyn B: “I repeat to myself ‘inhale, exhale’ and always remind myself the most important thing is that both myself and my horse get home safe at the end of the day.”

Yeardly P: “I always say to myself, ‘you will have a clean safe ride.’ I also have a little pep talk to my horses and tell them the course and exactly what we are going to do at each jump.”

Routine Rituals

Taylor C: “I like to take a moment with my horse before getting on for any jumping phase, and trace Native American war paint symbols with my finger on my horse. Specifically: circle around the eye and nostril for enhanced senses, an arrow on the neck for victory, and zig-zag lines on the hind leg for speed. As I trace, I repeat what each symbol means to my horse. It’s a nice moment for us to take a breath and focus on our partnership before taking on a cross-country or jump course.”

Ashley E: “When I walk cross-country, I take pictures of each jump and primary landmarks between fences. Then I scroll through the photos and visualize how I'm going to ride each jump. This helps me develop and commit to a plan. I also have a "pump up" playlist full of upbeat songs to help me get in my groove.”

Ashley R: “During warm-up, I jump all but one. Then right before I head to the start box, I jump the one I didn’t so I can get a feel of how she will be with a ‘new’ jump.”

Laughter: the Best Medicine

Abby F: “I listen to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan on repeat an unhealthy amount of times.”

Callia E: “‘Blast “Girls in the Hood,’ dry scoop pre-workout, and pull our tarot cards.”

Caroline B: “I always eat a bag of Welch’s fruit snacks while walking my course. Did it at my first show and have done it every time since!”

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