Cross-Country Problems

Hi I have a Warmblood Gelding that is 19 and only started eventing last year. He is very educated in the Dressage Ring but I love eventing.
When I go out on cross-coountry his fine but a bit head strong but as soon as someone is coming up behind him to overtake (as he is a bit slow haha) he stats to throw himself around and at the last event I did about 3 months ago he started to do little rears which didnt help me with my confidence as I have fallen off pretty bad. Most of the events around where I live are very open courses and when another horse is going the other way to the finishline and Im only like half way he trys to go that same direction like his a Thouorghbred wanting to race them.
Is there anything that could help me with having abit more of better control over him so that I can get some speed up without him being stupid.
I am currently riding in a flash noesband and have been told about giving the grackle noesband a go would it help in away.

Your situation requires help that really can’t be had from an internet BB.

Your horse seems to be out of control and a different noseband is not the answer. Do find someone knowledgeable and local to help you, in person.

If you continue on as you are, you will quite probably fall again. It is an unsafe situation and not fun for you!

Unfortunatly a bit will not help you. It sounds like your horse is a bit herdbound and is not listening to you.

I would consider having someone else ride him in those types of situations that is a little quicker to react to his behavior and can get him going forward again or circle and get him back under control if he takes off after passing horse.

I agree that you probably need help riding through this problem and it won’t be fixed by a bit or noseband. Your horse is not listening to you. I also wonder just how slowly you are going XC. If you are consistently getting passed at the lower levels you must be trotting a lot. Perhaps you need to get more comfortable with cantering xc first. If your horse is seeing a horse on another part of the course and wanting to take off after him, you simply don’t have enough control and need to work on this in a controlled setting.

Back to your question.

My OTTB hated to be passed or to go second when I got him. He firmly believed he should be in the lead! He would throw a full blown tantrum when this happened.

This is how I fixed it ~ Not sure if it would work for you or whether you would feel comfortable riding him through it. We had some ugly moments during the process although I never felt unsafe.

I rode him in a group (or even just with one other horse) and we worked on leading, following and passing. I started him up front where he felt the most comfortable. Then I circled him behind and had him follow until he just couldn’t stand it any more. Then I let him go up front again. We started at a walk and progressed to a trot and canter. After he got better at following, we worked on passing. Once again, we started at a walk and moved up.

I used a one rein stop to put my horse in time out when he really wasn’t listening. Not the “whip him around to make him stop” type, but giving him a quiet place where he could refocus on me.

After you’ve established some ground rules and before eventing again, why not take your horse on some hunter paces. You can practice leading/not leading and passing along the way and if he’s not good you can school him (circle, one-rein stop, etc). When you do start eventing again, be prepared to circle him, pull him up, or do whatever it takes to make him listen.

Your horse has to listen to YOU and it will take time, patience and persistence to work through this. It too me more than a year before I felt my horse was really going to behave. I foxhunt and I knew my horse had to be rock solid about where he was going to be in the field.

You say he is very educated in Dressage.

I think that in that case, when you get out on CC you tend to forget everything you learned in dressage. You stop riding and start reacting. It is not a case of what he wants to do. It is a case of where you want him to be. So focus on riding your horse.

Quote from Bogie" I rode him in a group (or even just with one other horse) and we worked on leading, following and passing. I started him up front where he felt the most comfortable. Then I circled him behind and had him follow until he just couldn’t stand it any more. Then I let him go up front again. We started at a walk and progressed to a trot and canter. After he got better at following, we worked on passing. Once again, we started at a walk and moved up."

The above is a basic riding school exercise, “circle and go behind”.

This is not something you fix by asking strangers who have never seen you and your horse for advise.

Find a good trainer!

I agree with this part, in particular. There is no reason why you should regularly be getting passed on XC for this to arise as a problem in the first place. I would recommend working with a trainer, if you aren’t already, to get more comfortable out on course. To be getting passed you are either having refusals, or going really slow/circling a lot. You say he is really slow, and at the lowest levels, that probably means trotting. When he is getting strong, are you wrestling him to slow him down? (I ask because at the lowest levels its all but impossible to have a horse that’s getting strong and also so slow to get passed).
I think if you can get more confident jumping and galloping out in the open, that will help some of these issues.
Good luck and be safe!

If you are constantly getting passed on xc, there is a bigger issue here and you are going wayyy too slow.

I agree…get a trainer. Hacking at the walk in a group is the first step I would take to get the horse used to other horses in his space. However, I am not sure this is even a safe option for you at this point.

I think if the OP is not confident with the ability to control her horse if he is passed or near another horse then going slow is fine by me, going faster to avoid being passed is the last thing I would suggest. Fix the obedience issue first and the speed issue second.

yes well the point being if this is the case - she really shouldn’t be out competing.

Regretfully, Tegz95, the answer you seek is inside your mind. As others have noted, you have got to stop thinking “control” and dressage. I had a horse with a similar response as yours on XC. He was totally herd bound. My answer was to boot his ass HARD, go to the whip and GALLOP FORWARD. The only answer is FORWARD. I never even considered changing bits, noseband etc.

From what I read in your post, you are not confident enough to make that happen. As such, the horse’s energy expands like a balloon and at some point it has to pop (rear, buck etc.). Adding control is simply going to back the horse off even more until he stops completely. Thus, I would recommend a trainer and perhaps having a pro take him out while you watch and see how the pro fixes the issue.

In my opinion, over control on XC is a bad setup for making larger mistakes at fences.

Until you can find an instructor/trainer to help you with your issue, can you find a huge, fenced in field, with no chuck holes, to practice letting him gallop? Your horse will have no way to get loose, which may be part of your fear, too.

You need to start to feel comfortable with galloping. Have a friend with you to watch, so you will feel more comfortable about the exercise. Get a neck strap, have your stirrups short enough to get off of his back in two point and just let him gallop in the fenced in field. Wrap your fingers through the neck strap with one hand (rein, too) and grab mane with the other. Make certain that you use a bridge with the reins across his neck. Start with an extended canter, then move into a hand gallop. As you feel more comfortable with forward, then go faster. You do not have to go h*ll bent for election from the git go. Do this exercise over several weeks, building up to a gallop. Eventually, add a friend’s horse in the field with you. You might actually find that it is a “WhooHoo!” kind of fun to gallop.

BTW, if he is a good dressage horse, he should understand half halts to get him back under control. If he/nor you do not understand how to lengthen, shorten, lengthen his canter, in his dressage work, then do not do the gallop exercise. Have your dressage instructor teach you how to do that, before trying the gallop exercise.

If you can get over your fear of going faster, then your issue may fix itself. For cross country, your horse needs forward in his brain. It is a good thing. Out of control forward is a separate issue. It does not sound like your horse has this issue. As others have told you, you do not want to bit up to stop forward in a cross country horse.

Another thought is: if the wind howling in your ears and bugs in your teeth is not fun, then maybe eventing is not for you? :wink:

If the OP is still interested in responses . . .

19 years old and just started eventing? Might be that this horse would rather be in the sandbox. Find a trainer or an experienced friend to help.

My pony started eventing including jumping her first fence at 17 after a couple years as a 4H western pleasure horse. She LOVES it so I wouldn’t let age stop you but some horses do need to get used to being in the “great outdoors” away from their friends and some just never like it.