JumpCross provides riders with a cross-country sport with knock down fences and combines the excitement of cross country with the accuracy of show jumping. JumpCross was launched in 2001 by Robin Dunlop at Grange Farm, Wittering. Robin decided to create an equestrian discipline for riders of all abilities and ages to develop skill, technique and confidence when riding over cross country terrain.
The knock down nature of the fences means the course is not as intimidating a solid fences for horse and rider, yet it still demands a high level of balance and rhythm, developing a clean and accurate jumping technique.
Anyone can do JumpCross and training is offered from age seven with fence heights starting at 2ft. There are many JumpCross sites across the UK and Europe who all hold training days and competitions.
Instructor Therese Cousens BHSAI runs the site in Polegate, East Sussex at Priory Court Farm. The course here has been up and running for 7 years and holds regular training sessions, clear rounds and competitions throughout the summer months. The course is set over 25 acres of land and includes a ditch, bank, 2 water complexes as well as fans and doubles. Training clinics are typically 2 hours long and include a mini competition within the group at the end for fun, once the riders have been round the course. Groups are made up of no more than 6 riders and are formed depending on fence height, ability and experience.
The lesson starts in the warm up arena where the instructors can access everyone in the group over a couple of fences before moving onto the course. All the fences have the same design which are green and yellow in colour and are knock down poles for safety reasons. Throughout riding the course, the cross country terrain such as hills, dips and ditches will be come across and in the lessons, riders are taught how to approach each fence safely and accurately.
One of the first fences on the course at Priory Court Farm is the ‘fan’ or ‘corner’. This is a V shape jump formed of two poles. This requires accurate riding so the horse is straight on the approach, still jumping the centre of the fence so as not to jump too close or run out at the narrow end or jump the wide part unless desired to do so.
The oxer has the back rail which can be the same height or higher than the front rail. This is similar to oxers seen in show jumping and provides the width on a simple upright fence. On the course thee is also a triple bar which consists of 3 poles which graduate in height on a gentle slope. This is obviously wider with the third rail on so riders can opt to have the 2 rails if preferred as the fences are fully adjustable.
The double fences on the course are both on flat terrain, enabling the rider to lengthen or shorten the horses stride depending on its stride length. To approach the double, the horse and rider must have good balance and rhythm as well as impulsion for the second part of the combination whatever the height of the fence is.
As well as the refular upright fences, there are also some skinny fences to negotiate. These require accuracy as they are much narrower abd can easily be run out by the horse. The rider must ensure they have control and rhythm as well as straightness when approaching these and be careful not to come in too quick, particularly if this skinny follows on from another combination or if it is downhill like some are.
The training sessions at Priory Court Farm and other JumpCross sites provide the opportunity to practise each jump several times to ensure they are ridden correctly, accurately and safely. At the end of the session, riders are given the chance to complete a section of the course as it is in a competition. This is within the training group and can be timed with rosettes awarded.
By the end of the lesson, riders know how to ride a cross country course including the scoring rules for competitions, but have had a safe, fun round.
The next isssue will discuss the water complexes, bank and ditchs also found on the JumpCross course as well as more information on competitions.
For further information on JumpCross please visit the website www.priorycourtfarm.co.uk or call Therese on 07736 698262
The next training day at Priory Court Farm is on Sunday 7th July and the competition is on Sunday 1st September.