How to get use out of XC schooling

Hello! I have a bit of a issue.

I am a nervous adult rider. I do not jump often outside of lessons and when I do I jump much smaller and only a few. I get extremely nervous sitting and waiting and the longer I sit and wait the less likely I am to do something. I am capable of jumping much bigger at shows (relatively speaking) because I go out as early as possible, jump 3 warm up fences, then trot straight into the ring as the first person, roll around, barf a little after, then get off my horse.

I can manage jumping with an instructor because they are yelling at me the entire time :).

However, I have a lot of issues XC schooling. In the past I’ve had several horses that get herd bound and worked up sitting and waiting and waiting and have been difficult to get to leave a group. Plus in addition to waiting on every single other person in your group to take their turn you often have to wait at certain popular features for other groups. So that history combined with my own nerves that build while waiting I’ve gotten away from XC schooling at all, however I can’t really move up when I don’t school and the bigger fences are intimidating.

I went out with friends a few weeks ago and got overwhelmed with all the standing and idle chit chat and walking around and then jumping one thing at a time in a row, and waiting my turn and jumped two fences and quit. I enjoy my friends but I am sure they don’t enjoy me!

Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of chances to meet with a trainer to XC school and the groups get rather large so I’m not sure how to get any use out of going XC schooling.


Can you meet with a friend that you feel comfortable with and just go the two of you? Or is a trainer required for access?

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Make a plan and be upfront about it. “I really want to put 6-8 fences together today, like a little course, so if you don’t mind, I 'll just do it right at the beginning/ wait until you are all done. That way I can video you while you ride!”


I agree with the above. Set up a plan with whomever you want to ride with (trainer or other support). Explain your needs, what you want to do.

Cross country schooling does not have to be a group standing around doing one jump at a time. You could go at a less busy time, you put a bunch of jumps together while your trainer/riding buddy coach you as you go. When you are done schooling you start over the process so your riding buddy gets to school how they want to school, while you support/video/cool out and relax.

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The issue is people like to get a big fun group and I am not a very fun person until I am done. And I certainly can’t say “you can come xc school with me, but can’t let anyone else join”

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I understand, but surely someone wouldn’t mind getting the day over with faster by being in a more concentrated group?

I don’t have the nerves problem you describe, but I abhor wasting a day standing around waiting so I’d be game to go off as a pair. :slight_smile: Worth an ask, even if you all show up as a group if someone wants to splinter off so they can get it over with.

But you can say - “Standing around waiting is making me really nervous. I would love it if one person would come earlier with me to allow me to just go school and then I will gladly hang with all of you and enjoy your schooling. Is anyone willing to come early with me to do that?”


OP, I’ve been there! I took a long break from riding after my horse died, then an even longer involuntary break from riding when I got a new horse because of injuries, life, and a few other things. The new horse was completely green, so I had to start from the ground up with jumping. I found that somehow my confidence – which had always been a 10 – had whittled away to a 2. WTF!

I found the best thing there for me was to just go out and do it, and ignore the little voice. The more you ignore it, the smaller it gets. Recite a song if you have to. I found one other person to XC with - this person just so happened to be the woman leasing my other horse and was a very competent rider. She challenged me to ride at her level, and it helped me gain bits of my confidence back. Then I started going to every single Hunter Pace on the NE roster I could feasibly go to with another friend, who had a very schooled hunter pace horse that set the pace and gave my weenie horse and I some hand holding. Nothing got my confidence back like the stiff fences at Myopia, the Polo Fields, and a few Training fences at Appleknoll…

Confidence is like anything else. If you don’t use it, you lose it.


@enjoytheride Your super cool friend (who does get a little loud but that’s ok :wink: ) did text they’d meet you and go out with just you :slight_smile: and then join up with the rest. (me- I am that super cool friend).

The 2 add ons to the group I don’t think are specifically riding “with” us- the one didn’t have a “buddy” which is a rule and they are jumping the same height.

I am interested on other perspectives, as well. But- there is nothing wrong with “I need to out with just one person”, but on an open schooling day a group may go that no one has control over. Then stick to the plan by go, school what you want and either take video of my cursing over fence or head home :slight_smile:


I’ll have fun when it’s over.


I understand your dislike of xc schooling as you describe it—I hate that too. So, I go out alone (with a person who can see me, albeit from far away) or 1-2 hand-selected people, at most.

But I don’t have nerves, it just hate all the sitting and talking. If you’re really that nervous and not having fun…maybe stop doing xc? I’m not trying to be mean, I really mean it. Life is too short to be miserable on your horse.


Or move down a level, that can sometimes spark the fun again too!

But I don’t want to quit. The facility I had issues at I’d been to before, in a competition a month ago, and came in 2nd having never seen the course before. So I’m trying to ponder why I can do that (and the same in other cases, show but not be effective schooling) but can’t manage to do it when I school a few weeks later.


I think it depends on your instructor and the dynamics of the group. I would sometimes go and tell my instructor I just need to jump around that day and while she would be working with the rest of the group on a particular jump, I would go off “by myself” and jump a few (not out of sight but not with the group). I would either jump the jump the rest are doing first or last, or sometime in the middle. sometimes I would do that one as everyone was leaving.

It is sometimes very helpful for me to just go and jump around rather than sit and wait and work on whatever the group is working on.

Go fox hunting


I would probably be better with an instructor, but most people seem to be fine schooling XC without one so it can be difficult finding people to school with who want to take a lesson.

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What levels are you schooling and competing at? That may inform some of the answers we can give. Schooling is very different relatively between BN and Training or Preliminary.

Umm, below BN.

Do you have a current instructor? I would go with an instructor and just jump some on my own but with the support of someone when needed. Sometimes the schooling will start with instruction, then I will feel some confidence and jump some extra ones after the one that the group is working on.

The positive about my instructor is she doesn’t like standing around either so generally if the “crowd” is at one end of the venue, we will start at another…or a middle…or whatever.

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Well, maybe not helpful, but we have a venue about an hour from me that is on public park property. I have gone out and schooled on my own up to BN.

Would you feel better schooling on your own? It always feels like a trail ride with a handful of focused moments to me, because I didn’t know where I was going and I would wander around until I found something size-appropriate and then I’d jump it and go wander some more.

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