A single time fault on your cross-country round can mean the difference between taking home a red rosette and dropping outside the top 10.
Of course there's a physical limit to how fast you can go, but there are ways to shave seconds off your time in a safe way.
Eventer Flora Young suggest you try this exercise at home - jumping on an angle.
Jumping at an angle is a useful skill to master. It boosts your horse’s confidence, can get you out of sticky spots if your stride isn’t quite right and helps you beat the clock.
“If you’ve got a let-up fence on the cross-country, being able to jump it on an angle will save you a bit of time,” says Flora. “It’s all about minimal gains, so when you’re walking a course, think about which fences you could shave seconds off.”
Keep the fence low in this exercise so you can concentrate on your technique.
How to ride it:
In the middle of your school or paddock, place a small upright fence.
1 Go large around the outside of your school or paddock.
2 Look ahead for your fence and canter up the centre line, heading straight for the jump.
3 Jump the fence and ride straight back to the track, staying on the same rein.
4 Next time round, come off the track slightly after the centre line, increasing your angle towards the jump.
5 Repeat the exercise, gradually increasing the angle that you approach the fence.
6 Repeat on the other rein.
Read the full feature on avoiding time penalties plus much more in the August issue of Your Horse magazine, on sale now. Find out what's in the latest issue here