Ever wonder what the pros see when they're out walking cross-country? In the Ride Between the Flags series, riders walk us through their approach to tackling different cross-country questions. Area IX rider, coach, and trainer Lindsay Wagner walks us through the Preliminary level coffin at the Golden Spike Horse Trials.
A combination that can be found on almost every cross-country course starting at the Novice level is the coffin combination. As the levels go up, so does the difficulty of the coffin question. The distances become shorter, coffins become bigger, and the terrain becomes steeper - even the name itself sounds intimidating. At the Golden Spike Horse Trials in Ogden, Utah, Lindsay Wagner describes how to ride between the flags for the Preliminary coffin combination, 18abc.
“When riding coffin combinations, riders should think about compressing the horse and changing the balance from an open gallop to a bouncy, uphill canter,” said Wagner.
For the Preliminary coffin at the Golden Spike Horse Trials, Wagner explained, “You come across the racetrack into the infield and you have to really balance your horse and get them back to a coffin canter. The A element is a hanging log, B is the ditch, and C is another hanging log. It’s a punchy one stride to a forward two stride,” said Wagner. For Wagner, she describes ‘punchy’ as an uphill, shorter, more compressed, bouncy canter.
“The bright color of the ditch could potentially startle some horses. Ditches already pull horses and riders eye down to it, so make sure you’re looking at your line, staying a little behind the motion, and down in your seat.”
Terrain is seen on every cross-country course and Wagner explained the terrain on 18abc. “It’s an uphill approach but after you jump the first log, it’s downhill to the one stride and then you climb back up to a nice 36 foot, uphill two stride.”
A ‘coffin canter’ or what Wagner considers a ‘punchy canter’ is a canter well-known to eventers and helps make coffin combinations ride smoothly and safely. Watch Wagner’s student, Rosie Smith expertly guide her horse, Seamus, through the Preliminary coffin combination at Golden Spike Horse Trials.
About Lindsay Wagner
The Area IX eventer, Lindsay Wagner is an experienced upper level eventer, trainer, and coach. Spending years on the East Coast competing at the Advanced level, Wagner has learned from some of the greatest names in the sport including Torrance Watkins and Karen and David O’Connor. Moving back to her home state in 2006, Wagner bases her program out of Park City, Utah where she rides, teaches, and trains horses and students of all levels.
Pan Am Games team gold medalist Tamra Smith and Mai Baum and five-star pairs Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 and Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin headline a strong Advanced field when Twin Rivers begins an exciting season of eventing competition this weekend.
The USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) and Young Event Horse (YEH) programs have around 30 qualifying competitions each, and youngsters around the country are about to begin their seasons aimed at Championships.
As the season begins to turn, the temperature begins to drop, turnout time becomes more limited, schedules shift to accommodate the waning daylight and the possibility for a colicky horse increases. While the exact environmental causes of colic are not well understood, a commonly accepted theory is that any abrupt changes to a horse’s environment or schedule can increase the risk of colic.