10 course walking tips from professional event rider, Caroline Harris

Caroline Harris with Sam Griffiths-by Angus Murray.

 Competition nerves can alter the way we ride, ultimately impacting on our horse’s way of going and our performance. Having confidence in the course and knowing your fences, lines, striding, and ground conditions will help enormously; this is why we ‘walk the course’. Knowing what to look out for is crucial to a successful outcome so we asked professional event rider Caroline Harris, to run through her 10 top course walking tips for showjumping and cross country.

Caroline Harris has been based for the past six seasons with her mentor, Australian Olympic medallist, Sam Griffiths. The young event rider from Dorset has already achieved notable successes, bringing young horses up through the eventing ranks and achieving highly consistent results at international level.

Caroline’s Top Course Walking Tips

1 – for the showjumping a great thing to do is take a look at the whole arena and identify anything that might spook or back your horse off around the ring before you start walking i.e banners, trade stands

2 – when you walk the showjumping course, make sure to follow the line you will ride


3 – if jumping on grass, take into account any change in camber. If fences are down hill you will need to think of keeping your body up at the fence so the horse doesn’t fall on the forehand. When jumping uphill, you will need a stronger canter

4 – make sure you walk your distances. If fences are over 6 strides apart I prefer to ride from my eye rather than focussing too much on what the distance is

5 – when I walk the showjumping course, I really try to envisage the good powerful canter I will ride each fence with

6 – when walking the cross country, I like to walk with fewer people so I can really focus on my lines and each fence

7 – again when walking the cross country course, always focus on the camber of the ground and think about how it will affect your horse

8 – on approach to each cross country obstacle, I try to imagine how best to approach it i.e with what kind of canter (coffin canter/forward canter)

9 – when riding different lines, focus on something in the distance, that will be the line you want to choose to keep you straight

10 – always go through each fence in your mind to make sure you haven’t missed any out

For more course walking tips, be sure to read July’s issue of Everything Horse Magazine (published Monday 2nd July). Our feature will include more great tips from professional riders.

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