Feb 19, 2022

Safety First: Building Your Own Cross-Country Schooling Course

By Meagan DeLisle - USEA Staff
USEA/ Meagan DeLisle photo.

Having the ability to school cross-country obstacles and questions at home is an invaluable resource, but designing a home course requires a lot more than just a few jumps scattered around the property. Safety should be your number one concern, no matter if you are building the course for your own benefit or to create a new opportunity in your community for open schooling. The USEA has several documents to help give you guidance when constructing a cross-country track at home such as the Create a Safe Cross-Country Schooling Course handout or the USEA Cross-Country Course Design Guidelines. Here are a few examples for you to take into consideration before you get to building:

Footing is Key

The following excerpt is taken directly from the Create a Safe Cross-Country Schooling Course handout: “Footing is probably the most important aspect to consider in maintaining your schooling course. The education and safety of the horse all starts with good footing.”

Things for consideration regarding footing:

  • Footing around permanent jumps will have to be fixed routinely and the use of stone dust in high-traffic areas will help maintain the integrity of the ground around your jumps.
  • Water complexes need regular monitoring for footing quality to ensure no holes or depressions have occurred as a result of regular schooling.
  • Gas up that lawnmower! Grass courses will need to be mowed a minimum of two times per month, sometimes as many as four times a month in the growing season.
  • And on the topic of mowing, be ready with the weedeater as well.
  • If your course is mostly soil or sand, be sure to create channels for water run off when heavy rain occurs.

Jump Safety

  • When it comes to building a course at home, less is more. Don’t overcrowd your schooling field.
  • Consult documents such as this one if you are building your jumps on your own. When in doubt, consult a licensed builder and designer for guidance in building and placing jumps on your property.
  • Inspect your jumps routine for safety hazards such as loose boards, nails, and screws. Replace rotten logs and repaint/restain jumps as needed so the horse’s ability to see and read the jump is not impacted.
  • Stake down any portable jumps on the property. It is recommended that any jump, no matter its size or weight, be anchored into the ground to render it immobile.

Logistics

  • If constructing your own jumps and obstacles, know the allowable dimensions for each level and build jumps suitable to your needs now. For example, an open ditch has varying degrees of inside width. Novice ditches will be 2.6” in width while Advanced ditches will be 8’ in width. All ditches other than Beginner Novice should be approximately 2’ deep.
  • If your course is open to outsiders to school, ensure that all jumps are flagged appropriately so your visitors know which jumps fall safely within their abilities.
  • Ground lines help the average horse take off at a safe distance from the jump. The closer to fence the ground line, the taller it should be. For example: Obstacles at 1.20m/47” high with the anticipated speed of horse at 300mpm; the average horse should not get closer than .90m/35”
  • Consider the impact of the approach when placing obstacles. Upslope fences are easier for horses to jump, downslope fences add in difficulty so fences on a downslope should be 2” below the maximum height allowed.

Creating your own cross-country schooling course opens up unlimited opportunities for supplemental education before making your way to a show, but the key is creating a course that is safe, inviting, and allows you and your horse to benefit from.

Jan 27, 2023 ATC

Introducing the New Modified Rider Division at the 2023 AEC

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the addition of the Modified Rider division beginning at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. The USEA AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky August 29–September 3, 2023.

Jan 26, 2023 Young Event Horse

Get a Taste of Eventing with the New Event Horse Program

Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.

Jan 25, 2023 Profile

Dondante Steps Into The Spotlight with 2022 Standlee USEA Horse of the Year Title

Will Coleman had a huge 2022 with his string of horses, including a team silver medal at the FEI World Eventing Championship in Italy on Off The Record and top four-star placings with Chin Tonic HS, but it was Dondante whose consistency paid off to earn the Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year title.

Jan 24, 2023 Volunteers

The VIP Volunteer: Julie Murray

Julie Murray has loved horses since she could breathe, so when her daughters showed an interest in Pony Club and then eventing, she was thrilled to go along for the ride.

Murray started volunteering at the Fallbrook Pony Club near her home in Fallbrook, California, serving as an intermediate district commissioner.

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