These excerpts were published with permission from Cross-Country Completion: Considerations About Jump Decorating by Janine Preece McClain. The illustrations are by Janine Preece McClain and Leslee Preece. Cross-country decorating plays a significant role in a successful cross-country course. Whether you’re a course designer or a volunteer, the USEA encourages all members to order this educational book here: wintertalefarm.com/book.php.
The Role of Cross-Country Decorating
Decorating has been analyzed in recent years and now there are guidelines for finishing a jump. Engineering studies have given us information about galloping speeds and takeoff spots that can help us take a more pro-active approach to decorating. Many factors contribute to the determination of the takeoff point. Terrain and direction of approach will influence how a jump is decorated, as well as the type and profile of each jump. As previously noted, decoration on the top four corners of the jump help the horses read the spread or width of the jump.
These decorations also define the height. You can find more detailed information on the United States Eventing Association website found here: Cross-Country Course Design.
Another very important part of the decoration is the ground line that helps to show the horse the bottom of the fence and thus helps even more in perception of height. Ground lines not only show up from a distance as a noticeable identifier of a jump’s location and height, but also can and should be set in front of the obstacle to help the horse to take off with enough space to allow his front legs to come up. The location, size, and shape of any ground line will be determined by the type and siting of the specific jump. Materials used to create a ground line usually are natural, such as a wooden rail, mulch, straw, hay, pine straw, greens, flowers, bushes, or a combination of those things. Artificial flowers are also a commonly used material. The ground line becomes part of the overall base spread dimension, which is limited under the rules governing the sport. Therefore, care must be taken to avoid exceeding the base spread specified for the competition level of the jump being decorated.
In addition to the ground line, decorations set just in front of a jump at the outer edges of its face, or leading edge will give the horse more information about when he must leave the ground to clear the jump. This comes into play as he arrives at the last stride or so before takeoff, when he sees from his side vision only. These decorations are most often tall items such as trees or shrubs.
About the Author
Janine Preece McClain is a veteran of the eventing world, having competed in many events and during her riding career. She holds a USEF “r” Eventing Course Designer’s license and has worked as a course designer and cross-country decorator at many events in the eastern U.S. and Canada, including the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C. She has created this publication using her knowledge of jumping horses and sense of artistry to aid in the safety of the sport and add beauty to the courses. Visit wintertalefarm.com/book to learn more.
The USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is an event that many USEA members look forward to year after year to catch up with their fellow eventing enthusiasts and stay up to date on all the latest work happening on the USEA Committees and Task Forces, but there’s so much more to explore. The educational opportunities offered at this year’s Convention, which takes place on Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, are endless and afford members with the opportunity to expand their horizons through a full schedule of seminars and events. Plus, each day of the Convention counts as one ECP Continuing Education credit for those in attendance!
Each year every member of the USEA receives a nomination ballot to submit nominees to the Board of Governors and during the Annual Meeting of Members, all members are invited to vote for those individuals nominated to serve. All members receive a proxy to vote for their chosen representatives for those unable to attend the Annual Meeting of Members. The only restriction for Board membership is that they must be USEA members. There are 10 positions representing each Area of the country and 11 at-large positions with no other restrictions.
Effective Dec. 1, 2023, USEF rule EV145.8 will require, whenever possible, new cross-country obstacles (for which frangible devices are appropriate) to be constructed with FEI approved frangible technology for the Training level and above (previously it was Modified and above).
The Ram Tap Horse Park Horse Trials hosted the final USEA Classic Series Event of the year this past weekend in Fresno, California. The event offered three traditional long-format divisions at the Beginner Novice, Novice, and Training levels. Meet the final USEA Classic Series champions of 2024 below.