Eventing riders are brave souls that focus on not only one discipline, but three. After completing dressage and showjumping portions of an eventing competition, the next part is cross country. And whether it's raining, shining, or sleeting, eventers will strap up and head to the cross country course.
While riding in optimal weather is a piece of cake, tables turn when it starts raining. In order to ride safely while maximizing your time and minimizing your penalties, there are some useful tips you can put to action.
In this article, we will look at how eventing riders can ride safely and accurately in the rain during their cross country test.
Why does riding in the rain pose a risk?
First things first: before we look at some useful tips on how to ride a cross country test in the rain, you also need to understand why riding in the rain poses a risk and makes things harder.
Most of the cross country test is ridden on grass, which becomes slippery when it rains. Not only that, the ground can break and you may even see small mud slides when going downhill. This is especially important to take into account when lading from a fence.
When the grass is wet, the risk of your horse slipping and falling increases and this can cause serious injuries not only to your horse, but to you as well.
Rain also decreases visibility, making it harder for you and your horse to estimate the distances to the jumps.
So, as a rider, you have to prepare for your cross country course differently when it is raining outside. Next, we will take a look at some useful tips and tricks for preparing your test in the rain.
Prepare for your cross country test in the rain: best advice
Everyone knows that riding in the rain isn't exactly pleasant. Your clothes get wet, it's hard to see forward, the ground is slippery, and so on. Before entering your cross country course, take a note of the following advice.
Your warm up needs to be on point
A rainy weather can mean that it's colder outside than normally. Especially when paired with some wind, you might feel your own teeth clattering when getting ready for your test.
Whenever it's colder outside, it's essential to warm your horse up properly. A good warm up ensures that your horse's muscles are ready to work and his joints are lubricated and warm. If your horse is too cold, there is an increased risk of a sprained muscle.
Also, if the warm up isn't done properly, it can affect the horse's reaction time negatively.
Ensure your horse has grass studs
Most eventers use studs in their horses' shoes whenever they enter a cross country course, rain or shine. However, in the rain it may be wise to use longer studs and/or more of them.
Typically, you can use two studs in the back and two in the front. They can also be the same size or different sizes. For instance, some riders prefer to use four small studs when the weather is good, whereas two long ones in the back and two short ones in the front may be a good idea when it's raining.
To find out which combination works best for you and your horse, you should try different options at home.
Tape your horse's boots and polos
Many eventers tape their horse's boots and polos before entering a cross country course, but this is especially important if it's raining. Rain makes the horse's fur slippery and can even cause the boots to become loose.
Use duct tape and remember to tape the boots safely.
Safety stirrups are a non-negotiable
Safety stirrups should always be used when riding, but even more important is to use safety stirrups with a good grip when you ride in the rain. You also want to ensure that the safety system is excellent to minimize the risk of getting caught in the stirrups should you fall off your horse.
For instance, our safety stirrup Ophena A is a popular safety stirrup model among all disciplines. It can be used in dressage and showjumping as well, so you will not even have to switch stirrups between tests.
Ophena A features a patent-pending safety system and integrated dampening, making it an ideal choice for someone who does eventing and stays on their stirrups a lot.
Good safety stirrups ensure that your foot will be more likely to get released from the stirrups in case of an accident, and this can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
In the video below, you will see how Ophena A works in action:
If you want to take things a tad further, you can take a look at our magnetic safety stirrups which are excellent for showjumping. They can also be used in eventing if your local or national federation allows them, but for now, they are approved for FEI showjumping and para-dressage.
Our magnetic safety stirrups Ophena S and Ophena S Pro feature a magnetic connection between the boot and the insoles, making them a great choice when jumping or hacking. For instance, many eventers use our magnetic safety stirrups at home when they practice their cross country courses or showjumping, or hack in the woods.
Get gloves with good grip
Everything gets more slippery when it rains: even the reins. You should make sure that you have gloves with good grip so that when your reins get wet, you can still get a good hold on them.
For instance, Roeckl Sports makes popular riding gloves with excellent grip.
As a side note, we should mention that some reins are better in rain than others: take a look at your reins and figure out if they are the best ones for a rainy weather.
Use a crop with a wrist strap
Most eventers grab a crop with them on the cross country course just in case. When it rains, it can become harder to hold onto the crop. A crop with a wrist strap can be a good choice, because it ensures that you will not lose your crop even if you lose your grip for a minute.
Remember the breast plate
Many eventers use a breast plate on their horses, but if you normally don't, you might want to do so when it's raining and your horse has studs. The studs can easily hurt the horse's breast when they jump, so ensure your horse has a good breast plate when you screw the studs on.
Support your horse in turns, jumps, and landings
You should never leave your horse alone when you jump, but this is especially important when the ground is wet. Support your horse by keeping his head up right before the jump and don't let your horse drop his head too much right after a jump.
Also, remember to keep your horse collected through turns and bends to support him and prevent slipping.
Take it easy on the straights
Of course, time matters in eventing. You want to get a good time on your cross country course, but you also have to consider the different weather conditions. When the ground is dry and your horse has a good grip, you can easily ride faster on straights and make up some time.
However, the wet ground makes things harder for your horse and more dangerous for both of you. Take it easy on the straights and focus on getting a clear and clean round.
Practice at home
A rainy weather rarely comes with a warning, so it's good to be prepared for rainy conditions in advance. Practice riding in the rain at home in familiar conditions, so you will be more prepared at shows.
This way, you will also see what kind of things you need to fix or do differently compared to good weather conditions.
Interested in our safety stirrups?
If you are interested in our safety stirrups, such as Ophena A, you should take a look at our shop and stirrup reviews.
Our stirrups are used by amateurs and professionals all over the world, and many have reported to have experienced significant improvements during their rides.
For instance, Ophena S and Ophena S Pro customers have reported the following:
- Improved balance
- Improved posture
- Decreased knee and hip pain
- Improved foot and leg position
- Increased confidence
- Better focus
If you would like to order your own magnetic safety stirrups or regular stirrups, here's how you can do it:
- Choose the stirrup model (Ophena A, Ophena S, Ophena S Pro)
- Choose the color (silver or black)
- Choose the size of your magnetic insoles (if getting Opena S or Ophena S Pro)
- Decide if you would like your new stirrups engraved (only takes a couple of days extra to arrive)
- Fill in your details
Your new stirrups will arrive in no time and you will have a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Questions? Get in touch with us! We are available via email and social media.