TIGGY’s Trust launched its latest initiative ‘Cross Country at its Best’ with a series of talks showing how an understanding of the way a horse sees a fence helps promote and educate both horse and rider, enabling them to ride more effectively and take safe choices cross-country.

The talks were given by Alain Ponsot, international course builder, designer and lecturer, who recently built the World Championship course at Pratoni and is the resident course designer and builder at Le Mans where the Pony Europeans for Eventing will be held in 2023.

The talks were attended by 400 riders, designers, coaches and stewards representing pony club, eventing, cross-country venues and working hunter. Focusing on how a horse sees a fence, Alain explained how jumps should be built, decorated and placed so that they ask a fair question to the horse.

The talks were opened by Adrienne Daly, a trustee of Tiggy’s Trust, who gave a brief overview of the work that the Trust have undertaken in 2022 and introduced the ‘Cross Country at its Best’ series of videos that the Trust has been making with Alain and Sam Watson on location at Equipark, Carlow and Killossery Lodge Stud, Swords, Co Dublin.

New Year release date

The videos are due to be released in the New Year and are aimed at young riders, course builders and designers to help them build safely at home and for competition and to help riders understand how to assess the questions put to them on a cross-country course. The first talk given by Alain was hosted by EI Northern region in Banbridge where the Trust also donated £3,000 from its ‘Young Lives Lost’ initiative to the Northern Air Ambulance service in memory of young equestrians from the area.

This talk was followed by two further talks at Horse and Jockey, Thurles, Co Tipperary. The take up of the invitation to attend was phenomenal and the 180-seat theatre was filled up in just 48 hours so Alain kindly agreed to put on a ‘matinee’ talk to accommodate all those disappointed on the wait list.

Feedback from the talks was so positive that, in addition to the videos to be released in the new year, Alain has agreed to come back for a further talk in the spring.

The Trust’s motto of “a mighty flame follows a tiny spark” surely rang true thanks to Alain and his inspirational ground-breaking insights into building safe cross-country fences and tracks.