Phillip Dutton: Handling a Cross-Country Bank

Tips on coping when your jump up a cross-country bank leaves your horse disorganized, from an Olympic eventer.

Here’s the situation: You’re navigating a cross-country bank with a little jump on top. Your horse has jumped the “bank up” part of the question, but his landing is weak.

| Photos by Amy Katherine Dragoo

If he lands flat-footed and unbalanced, you have a potential problem. It won’t work to try to push him forward at canter toward the jump. He’s not going to lengthen his stride going to something he’s already concerned about, especially if he’s not up in front of you. Instead of automatically trying to canter on, think “Plan B” as I demonstrate in these photographs.

Photo 1

If you don’t have a good jump up, your horse is likely to break to trot on the top of the bank anyway, as Seemore has done here.

Photo 2

The best solution is to take that trot and use it; make it a strong trot like Seemore’s, and it will help your horse regroup for the jump instead of getting more strung out. I’m staying upright in the saddle and driving Seemore on to encourage him to get his back end engaged again as we approach the vertical,

Photo 3

We get a nice jump from the trot. Seemore is round and relaxed, and I’m following him with my hands and upper body.

Ride up, across, and down a bank with Phillip in his “You Can Take It to the Bank” in the May 2006 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.

Seven-time U.S. Eventing Association Rider of the Year, Phillip has twice been a team gold medalist (in 1996 and 2000) with the Australian Olympic squad and is again a member of Australia’s Elite Eventing Squad for 2006. Recent highlights of his career include winning the 2005 North Georgia CIC*** and Jersey Fresh CCI***, and finished second (with The Foreman) and 10th (with Amazing Odyssey) at the Burghley (England) CCI**** in September 2005.