Eventing training with Andrew Hoy Part 1
Some of the riders at the cross country clinic with Andrew Hoy looked rather nervous as they gathered the water complex at the Greenvale Equestrian Park.
Once they discovered that they weren’t being asked to tackle the highest drop into the water, they relaxed and the question was raised “What height do you school your horses at Andrew?”
Andrew looked at the 2* fence into the water and replied “I would only be jumping that if it were on a competition course. I wouldn’t be schooling over it”
“A marathon runner doesn’t run marathons every day” he points out “Training is all about improving technique and you can do that at lower heights than the competition fences you are going to face”
“The difficulty with schooling over cross country fences is that they don’t fall down so you can’t afford to make a mistake. This can affect your horse’s confidence as your horse needs to believe that every time you ask him to do something, it is achievable and a simple exercise he can cope with”
“If I want to increase the height I am schooling a horse at, I would use show jumps, even on a cross country course. That way, you can simulate the situation but if something goes wrong, the poles will fall rather than your horse”
Andrew gave the example of using show jumping wings and poles at the water fence. Rather than using the solid 2* fence to school over, he suggested making use of the smaller log drop into the water. The height and difficulty of this obstacle can be increased by putting show jump wings in the water and creating a fence behind the solid obstacle to jump.
That way you can gradually keep increasing the height of the jump into the water and, if problems occur, the pole will fall and you can reduce the height if necessary to regain the horse’s confidence
Placing the showjumping wings in the water enables you to safely increase the height of the jump
How often do you school cross country?
In England Andrew has the luxury of being able to compete at several different levels and competitions each week during the season and therefore feels that his horses gradually build up their experience over cross country fences at competition
“For the young horses competing at BE100, Novice or 1*, I may take them for a light cross country schooling two days before the competition but I particularly like to use the competition experience itself as a schooling exercise”
“Often I’ll ride at a competition on Friday (our One Day Events in England are run so that we compete all three phases in the day) and if I feel that a horse is a little anxious that day, I’ll go home on Friday night and head to a similar event on Sunday with that horse to do the same thing all over again”
“I want them to feel that it is just another day at the office. The aim is not to run them hard or try to win everything, the aim is just to get them used to everything, including the height of the obstacles they face on cross country”
In Australia, riders may not have the same number of events to choose from and also few events are run where the competition is completed in one day, but the concept should still apply where you aim to make each small competition a schooling exercise in the lead up to more major competitions. Hopefully at that point the consistent schooling in a competition environment is a recipe for success
Andrew on course at Rockingham Horse Trials, England - another 'day at the office'