Mary King’s 6 top tips for pace and performance on the cross country course

By Mary King on 05 May 2017

 Photo courtesy of Liz Knowler © Liz Knowler 2017

  1. Doing fittening work on suitable grass tracks will replicate the conditions your horse will be under on the cross country course. We are lucky to have a friendly local farmer who lets us use grass margins round his fields when it’s not too wet.


  1. It’s crucial to make sure your horse is really fit for the level of competition you are doing – he will be much more enthusiastic, will enjoy it much more and there will be less chance of injury if he is really fit.


  1. At home try and use as many natural features as possible – make an effort to find a place to ride in and out of water, through woods, over banks and safe natural ditches. Educating your horse while you are hacking will help him learn to trust you and respond positively to everything you ask.


  1. Check your riding position often. A good position is imperative for safe and effective cross country riding and better balance means you are less likely to fall off! Keep your heels down and your toes forward and don’t let that lower leg swing back.


  1. It helps enormously to be well prepared: jumping bigger and slightly more difficult fences at home than the competition requires will mean that the competition is easily within your scope and it will give you both a good experience to build on.


  1. Be confident when riding the cross country course. Horses are very perceptive and your positive thinking will transfer to your horse to give you a much better round.



Mary King is one of the UK’s most accomplished and admired professional event riders. She has represented Great Britain at six Olympics from 1992 to 2012, winning team silver in 2004 and 2012 and team bronze in 2008. She has also won team gold at two World Equestrian Games and four team golds at the European Eventing Championships. Mary has a raft of individual medals including European Bronze in 1995 and European Silver in 2007. She is a four-time British Open Champion, won Badminton Horse Trials in 1992 and 2000, Burghley Horse Trials in 1996 and the Rolex Kentucky in 2011. Mary regularly competes on homebred horses, which always have the ‘King’ prefix. Mary’s daughter Emily is also a successful event rider.

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