Western Cross Country?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 04-29-2014, 12:52 PM Thread Starter
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Western Cross Country??

Hey everyone!

My terminology might be a little off (forewarning haha!), I have only been riding for about a year and it's only been trail rides and what not. I have been taking lessons four times a week, really refining my riding, and now I am considering doing some kind of competing.

Is there such a thing as western cross country? I've been googling and it looks like all jumping is done within the English discipline. I really can't afford new tack but I want to try out cross country.

I may have the wrong idea of what cross country is, I am picturing a cross between endurance and jumping in a natural environment. Is that correct?

So many questions! I appreciate your help :)
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post #2 of 13 Old 04-29-2014, 09:38 PM
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A bit, well quite a bit, faster than endurance. And you are correct that it is an English discipline. Simply because the types of saddles used allow for the best movement from the horse.
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post #3 of 13 Old 04-30-2014, 07:50 AM
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It would hurt like heck to get stabbed by the horn jumping cross country!
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post #4 of 13 Old 04-30-2014, 09:05 AM
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Cross country is actually a completely different kind of event than endurance. Endurance may be timed, but cross country is TIMED timed, as in you have a very short amount of time to get around the course, jumping large semi-natural obstacles on the way. (By semi-natural I mean that it is pretty darn unlikely you will ever actually NEED to jump off a six foot bank into water at a hand gallop, and in most cases you would just ride AROUND that four foot tall, five foot wide pile of logs!). The horse must have endurance to do this, but it's not the same kind of endurance needed for a hundred hours in the saddle over multiple day rides.

People do not do cross country in Western mainly because in order to be balanced over the jump you must lean forward and you would get shanked by the saddle horn. Weight and shape of the saddle is also a factor, as well as the fact that you need short stirrups so you can rise off your horse's back. That does NOT mean that you can't jump small obstacles during a trail ride in your Western saddle, but cross country jumps are usually pretty big, starting at 2'6" with 4 foot ditches and 3'3" drops at the Beginner Novice level. For that you will need a saddle that will allow you to get into two-point (jumping position), which a Western saddle will not do.
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-02-2014, 10:53 PM
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To clear it up you CAN jump in a western saddle by putting your hand on the saddle horn making you safer and LESS likely to get stabbed. However I might try like bareback before I did western. I also think you should learn to jump in a controlled environment before going out cross country jumping
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-03-2014, 10:58 AM
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You can get off the horse's back with a western saddle too. Just make the stirrups shorter. :) Kind of defeats the purpose of a relaxing comfortable ride, but it's do-able. And there are plenty of western saddles without horns too. :) You could also use an endurance saddle. Best of both worlds sometimes.

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-03-2014, 12:21 PM
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The problem with jumping in a western saddle isn't the horn so much as it is the length of the tree. A western saddle has a tree that extends on to the loin. This long, rigid bar then makes it harder for the horse to use its back as it jumps. It is kind of like doing gymnastics in a back brace.

You can jump a horse using a western saddle. John Wayne did it in True Grit, and he wasn't a small, light guy! But you will be at a huge disadvantage in a cross country competition. I'll admit, this is not a spot where the guy in me would like to have a horn...but then, this doesn't look like fun to me in ANY saddle:

BTW - there is some debate if John Wayne rode the jump in True Grit, but most of what I've seen says he did:

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-03-2014, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
BTW - there is some debate if John Wayne rode the jump in True Grit, but most of what I've seen says he did:
The image you posted didn't show up, but from what I have read, Jim Burk doubled for the jump but was never credited for it.
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-03-2014, 12:42 PM
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As others have mentioned, cross country courses are fairly quick (a matter of a few minutes) at high speed, while endurance is done over the course of several hours at much lower speeds. Additionally, cross country is one of three phases of eventing/combined training (the other two are dressage and show jumping) There may be some competitions that are only cross country, but I've never seen them.

You could probably do some small jumps in a western saddle, so maybe you could initially begin with your current saddle (you'll start on tiny cross rails anyway!) but any jumping competition is going to require english tack.

One other thing to consider is that cross country jumps get very intimidating very quickly (to me at least) The first recognized eventing level is Beginner Novice at 2'7" and the jumps are very wide as well as tall, and are solid. Some shows have lower, unrecognized levels (I'm going to one this month at "intro" level, 2'3")
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-05-2014, 06:19 PM
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You need a lot of jumping experience before even attempting cross country! And so do horses.
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cross country , english riding , new rider , western riding

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