XC time, minute markers, watches, etc

I have never worn a watch on xc. There, I’ve said it! With my previous horses and numerous optimum time hunter paces where only the MPM (and not the course length or optimum time) was given, it led to what I have to say was some fairly accurate riding. (toots own horn!)

However, new horse. Still don’t own a watch. Her first event at intro was meant to be 300mpm - we had no time faults and I later calculated we ran at 337mpm.

Next show is BN. 350mpm, the speed fault speed limit is 420mpm. I could just go “a bit faster” but maybe it’s time to get a watch and get with the program. Goodness knows getting a time penalty on this zippy little horse would be an embarrassment :grimacing:

Is there still only one watch people buy (Optimum Time)?

Is a halfway marker sufficient at weenie level? Or minute markers all the way?

Count up or down? Add 5 seconds or not?

Or just skip it and let off the brakes a bit :wink:

The optimum time watch is popular because the face/buttons are really big and it beeps at the minute (which some people love but I personally dislike). Any watch with a stopwatch function that is big enough you can read and is easy enough to start and stop one handed and wearing gloves will work-- I have an Armitron I think? Like $20 at Walmart. I don’t usually bother too much with it but when I do Ialways count up, and at a regular HT I don’t worry too much about minute markers, just try to have a general idea of where I am on the course and how fast I need to go. Generally I start mine when the countdown from 10 starts so it is roughly 10 seconds over.

Same! I was 2 seconds off OT last week without a watch (forgot to press start), and it actually broke a tie so woot woot! That said, I just use a cheapie watch from amazon (searched large face stop watch) and scribble OT, SF, and halfway mark on my arm with sharpie.

I’m old. Forget the watch. Let the horse carry the step they want and are most comfortable carrying. But, I know I am the minority. I haven’t worn a watch since the long format days.


I just check in at the halfway mark on XC. I run Novice. The minute marker beep would drive me nuts, although my $20 Champion sports jumbo timer watch has that feature, but I don’t use it.

1 Like

Same here, cheapest Armitron at WalMart–I believe between $10 and $15. I start the watch at 5 or 10 as they countdown. I’ve always just estimated a halfway point, and check my time toward the end of the course too.

1 Like

I’m another that doesn’t usually wear a watch at events, but I do wear them doing fitness training and gallop sets because I find navigating my phone is a PITA. Any old stopwatch will do - I find the eventing specific ones are grossly overpriced. You can find large sized stop watches online for $10-40 that do the same thing.

The stopwatches are useful for learning your level speeds and pace if you have any conditioning tracks near you that have markers set up.

Nothing wrong with using them if they work for you. I do remember one year at Novice I realized I was waaay behind the time. I had a horse who tended to go way too fast and I think I went too far in the other extreme. It came in handy then!

Well shoot - just ordered this one!


That’s the one I have. I’m definitely no expert but it works fine and I couldn’t stomach shelling out for the OT one. I’m returning to recognized events this year after a long hiatus and don’t have a great sense of pace so I find it useful. I’ve been starting 10 sec before and checking it once around the halfway point and once closer to the finish.


You’re doing the lord’s work giving such specific details on your watch. Add me to the “just googled and bought” team


Glad I could help. This sport is expensive enough, no need to spend extra $$ needlessly, like a $150 stop watch!


I have this watch and it works great!

Ok @equinelibrium and @Libby2563 got the watch today!

It’s all set up. No minute beeps, no way to program a 1/2way beep, but I guess I could program it to count down to the halfway point (1/2 the optimum time), then count up to my optimum time (which I’d need to write in my arm) as it can’t alarm or stop at that point, right?

Do you find the alarm beeps loud enough?

What about battery life? Saw some complaints about that, and the light doesn’t seem to work so perhaps that’s why.

Honestly the only feature I use is the count down clock, and even that I only use part of the time! More often than not I forget to press start as we leave the start box so I’m not the best person to ask about all the bells and whistles! :joy:

I also am not fancy or organized enough to care about minute markers and I just use the countdown feature. It has always been loud enough though often it’s happening just after I have finished so maybe that’s not a fair test.

The battery that came with mine lasted about 18 months being stored in my trailer through all seasons but not being used very many times. I could only find replacement batteries in a 10-pack. I don’t know if you’re in Area II but if you happen to be at MDHT this weekend (or Waredaca later this month) I can give you some because I doubt they will stay good long enough for me to use them all!

Oh that’s really nice of you @Libby2563 ! I’m in area VI though. Got a battery at the hardware store yesterday :slight_smile:

1 Like

During the off-season, take the battery out if you want to economize on battery buying…Keep the battery and watch in a ziplock baggie, reinstall when needed. Batteries can be found at Walgreens, Target, Walmart, etc at minimal cost.

1 Like

Thank god !!! :laughing:

Never got used to those beeps. They burst unnerving out of nowhere while I’m thinking about this horse and this ride. I don’t need to know! lol


This is so timely (sorry!). I’m prepping for a LL 3 day and my beloved little timex is too small and fiddly for sets or even an accurate glance on course. I’m going to buy this one today, and @Libby2563, I will be at waredaca for sure (home barn) and happy to buy a few off you.

Awesome! Are you doing the T3D? I was hoping to do that this year but lost a lot of time due to a freak injury this spring so I signed up for N3D instead. I’ve never done a long-format before and I’m SO excited!