by Tracy Wilson

It literally was a masterclass in ‘cross country’ training at Chyverton Park, Zelah on Sunday 3rd April 2022 which would have suited any horse and rider combination at any level of ability. Becky Kennen taught us how to ride across open ground in a balanced and rhythmical way in walk, trot and canter, accounting for undulations in the ground, upwards and downwards slopes (which weren’t actually that obvious until she pointed them out to us) and distractions our horses might experience that we might not immediately spot.

We spent a good while warming up, settling our horses down in a nicely controlled environment so they could focus on us as riders and the job in hand, before we even began to tackle any obstacles. Even then the first ‘obstacle’ we ventured over was a tiny ditch that they could literally walk through before we tried it in trot and then canter!

Thereafter we wandered around the first cross country field, jumping whatever Becky asked of us at the heights we were most comfortable with. Some combinations were braver than others, but it didn’t matter – it was all about having a go and learning as we went, and the improvement in us all (both horses and riders) by the end of the session was remarkable.

We finished by individually riding a series of logs and fences right around the field, at canter, again choosing the heights we were confident with. I’m not sure I’ve ever cantered Prince so determinedly around that field, confidently jumping as we went, remembering everything Becky had told me during the session and still breathing at the end (just)! It was exhilarating and I never dreamt I’d achieve quite that much – a massive thanks to Becky for her fabulous instruction as always but also my fellow riders for their unwavering support and encouragement.

It was super fun and I’d encourage everyone to have a go next time there’s a session like this – it was fantastic, we learnt so much and our horses really enjoyed themselves too!