The effect of steeplechase on your horse

How has doing long format steeplechase affected your horse?

I had always thought it’d be great to take the edge off my hot, likes to charge about greenie, but a YouTuber’s recent vlog showed an almost-rotational fall at a table on XC which the rider attributed to her steeplechase run beforehand: she felt her horse was misjudging the distances to the solid fences after the speed phase over forgiving hurdles.

I would say the vlogger is blaming the horse and the phase for the rider’s poor ride. However, at what level was this?

The old school long format, I found steeple chase created more attuned horses who had more confidence at bigger fences, enabling the horse to outride my capabilities at the time.

Steeplechase is NOT just flat out running to fences. There is a huge amount of riding that goes on where as riders we have to be able to balance and rate the horse AT SPEED. Steeplechase is no different than any other jumping phase in that we still have to actually ride.


To be fair she didn’t “blame the horse” in that way, but attributed the fall to her own riding and the horse’s excessive confidence post steeplechase. This was at BE100 (equivalent to our Training)

Ah, that makes much more sense. Horse are different creatures post steeplechase. Used as I was taught, steeplechase primes the pump for XC. But, it as also a time when steeplechase was 1.20m tall with 8-10 fences over 3000 meters. I just know that my horses went to XC better focused and more capable, and I had to change how I rode XC (no backwards!).

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Yeah I think this actually solidifies my thinking: for my horse who is almost over confident at N (and still green, not a great 1/2 halt) she might find steeplechase over exciting at that low height. :thinking:

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FWIW, Sharon White says that steeplechase makes every horse better—the hesitant ones get bolder and the more forward ones get the edge taken off. That was in the context of a long-format with roads and tracks before and after. I think going straight from steeplechase to XC without the intervening C phase to get the brains back could be problematic! Also obviously the rider must continue to ride intelligently.

At Novice the steeplechase speed is “only” Training pace, which you may already be doing at times in your Novice course. The difference is sustaining it for 2-3 minutes, including over jumps.

At a N3D year I found the Novice steeplechase incredibly helpful for learning how to go Training successfully. Honestly it was one of the most educational things I’ve ever done and made a huge difference in my ability to balance the horse and jump out of stride vs trying to essentially show-jump every fence. My forward and sometimes-too-confident horse was also the most rideable he’d ever been on the Novice XC course afterwards.

This year I did a T3D and it was also a blast and a good prep for Modified/Prelim. It did feel like a significant step up from Novice as far as exertion and wear-and-tear for the horse though. I also didn’t learn as much but only because the N3D was so incredibly educational!


I did it twice (T3D) with two different horses. The first one was a bit spooky and slow, and just jumped the full height of all the fences plus a bit so I didn’t feel like it made any real difference with him even though it felt amazing. The second was much greener and more of a typical TB-- he had a marvelous time but definitely got longer and flatter over each fence and I had to make it very clear we didn’t need to jump from 12 feet away on xc. He was fit enough that it didn’t really take the edge off physically but did get tired mentally I think. I didn’t feel like it was a gamechanger with either horse but I did enjoy it and definitely learned both times. Coming up through pony club I had done the jog/vet box etc already but it was still worthwhile.

Was this Elphick Event ponies?


Thanks, going to watch :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t change your opinion on steeplechase based of the vlogs. I watched these vlogs, and enjoy watching her other vlogs, but she’s an extremely handsy, nervous rider who has openly shown many lessons/clinics/camps attesting to this fact. While I think her candid approach to her flaws is incredibly brave, considering the number of followers she has, I would NOT blame steeplechase for their fall. I’m very glad both the pony and rider are a-okay after their fall!!


I have done T3Ds over the past few years with two horses, both were ready to move up and were super confident at the level. I also have seen a lot of folks do the 3Ds we had in our area, which were popular. My experience and observation were very similar to what Sharon has said, I’ve found it makes most horses better or at least did no harm. My horse that is a strong ride XC had a great time on Steeplechase and was still enthusiastic but, if anything, easier to ride XC at the 3D. I found the long format was a great experience in relationship building with my horses. They really enjoyed the prep and actual event immensely, so I always encourage folks to do it.

Our 3Ds also have a Steeplechase prep day where they have a fence set up and an experienced person helps you practice correctly before the actual endurance day. That really helps because you know how to ride it, and how your horse reacts, before you go do it.


My experience is the same as Reed and Sharon White. In pretty much every case, steeplechase makes an upper level horse better. It makes them bold, breathe fire (or release some steam!), it gets them so “in the zone” for XC in a way that 4 or 5 warmup fences in a 2 acre field just can’t do. It doesn’t make them careless; IME, they get sharper, dialed in, in front of your leg in a way you can’t imagine until you sit on your horse in phase D. It hones your own eye, gets you riding FORWARD; it allows you to make a mistake, but a “miss” on steeplechase teaches you something without severe penalty. Whoops-- kicked too much there, needed to wait. Wow…that was a long one…better keep my shoulders up and take a breath. You have 6-8 fences to figure it out, without yanking your horse’s face and interrupting rhythm.

That being said… I’m not signing up to take my novice horses to a N3D. The jumps won’t be big enough, the speed not fast enough, to have the same level of benefit for the horse (it still may be beneficial to riders though). A talented youngster will probably run through a novice sized chase fence (vs holding off a 3’9" brush) and not have a true gallop rhythm as an old school P3D at 640mpm.


I’ve done three T3Ds - the only thing the steeplechase had in common with all three is that it turned my horse into a jugging lunatic on Phase C. :rofl: Literally could not get him to walk the entire time.


The single most important instruction from my coach for my LFs were to ride to the base of the first XC jump for a slightly close distance with a sharp ping off the ground. He rarely had me ride for a specific distance–it was always about the pace and the balance–so it was very unusual instructions for us.

A long distance will beget another long distance and then another and allowing the trend to continue can be very dangerous. That was what the close distance at the first fence was preventing. I highly suspect that was the problem the OP referred to.

Phase A, B & C set us up to not need a couple fences to get in the grove. You come out of the box and you are already there mentally. I had a very hot horse that required a quiet light touch, but was put on this earth to run XC so I can’t say other than total focus even for the first fences on the course that I remember any other benefits. I will say that after each one he came home a bigger more badass version of himself.

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This was my horse’s issue, for sure, and as you said it was easily fixable by being clear about exactly what I wanted.

It looks like the pony in the blog the OP mentioned chipped in rather than stood off at the fence where it fell. The video angle isn’t ideal and it’s hard to say what happened but I don’t think it was caused by over boldness. It’s clearly very muddy so possibly more just a slip.


Yeah and that pony usually adds instead of takes away, rider didn’t see a stride and waited for the horse to decide, pony slid and couldn’t make the chip. Could have been a terrible fall but got lucky.

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I would recommend going to a classic long format event, such as Waredaca or Kentucky, and see for yourself. At Waredaca, they are very helpful with steeplechase schooling and one-on-one education before the event. Even if you are not competing in one of the classic format levels, it would be very educational. Perhaps help out someone in their 10min box.

We now are in a situation where there are many trainers who have never done a classic long format competition.

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Are people really doing steeplechase for the first time at the event with no experience at it and no coaching? That is an a bit scary to hear, it’s not the same ride at all.

It is good for the riders, especially those who tend to pick pick pick.

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The problem around here is there’s no other way to practice unless the place you board has a gallop track or xc jump area sufficient fit galloping and hurdles. And vey few places do. Even the local Horsepark has no steeplechase fences.