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.
Conditioning makes the horse fit and increases his endurance performance with less wear and tear on feet and legs. The idea is to work his heart and lungs in short intervals, let him recover a bit, then work him again. The following schedule for Training level horse provides an introduction for the horse and rider at the lower levels to the principle of interval training.
Within their first few years of being born, young horses have the opportunity to get a taste of U.S. Eventing through the USEA’s young horse programs. The USEA Future Event Horse Program (FEH) evaluates the potential of yearlings, 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds under saddle to become successful upper level event horses while the USEA Young Event Horse Program (YEH) evaluates the potential of 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds to become successful upper level event horses.
If your farm has the space to set up a cross-country schooling course, it can be to your advantage to have cross-country jumps available for schooling purposes. Safety should be the number one priority when designing and building cross-country jumps, and an expert should be consulted whenever possible.
By this time I am sure that you have received the news that the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena Feeds (AEC) has been canceled. I sincerely apologize for the difficulty this has caused everyone involved. I want to commend the USEA Board of Governors for making an extremely hard decision.