London 2012: Cross Country Course – The Reformers’ Tree


I just love big trees, there’s something majestic about a living thing that has been around for centuries, sometimes millennia. Here’s one of my favourite old trees that I pass everyday, and before you start thinking “he’s off his trolley and become a tree hugging hippie”, it this tree that has proved, in part, the inspiration for this next fence, due to the ‘boxed in’ root base it has.

One of the great things about using Hyde Park as the venue is there is just so much history surrounding this patch of ground from which to draw inspiration. Amongst other things, Britain is famous for it’s democratic style of government, and freedom of speech. Hyde Park is actually where much of this was born, illustrated so well by Speakers’ Corner and The Reformers’ Tree.

Fence 18 is sited where this famous tree once stood, the meeting point for many demonstrations and marches. The tree itself was burnt down in 1866 by people campaigning for the right to vote after they were banned from holding a meeting in the park. The stump of the tree continued to serve as the meeting point for protests, rallies and all manner of gatherings for years to come.  Let’s take a look at the fence:

Fence 18: The Reformers’ Tree:

The Reformers’ Tree

There are five elements to this fence, including a big step up and a big drop down both involving a bounce. “B” is a tree stump, not maximum height or spread, but narrow enough to be tricky and not dangerous. “A” & “D” are step up and down. “C” & “E” are branches, frangibly pinned but constructed to look like they form one entire branch.

The test here is a controlled pricision bounce, up and down. Riders are given adequate scope to adjust approach to A & B depending on the stride length of their horse by using the angle of A to their advantage. Their is also some scope to adjust the approach to C, D & E in order to get a good flowing line through, but will require precision riding of the correct stride. I’ve set out to provide the test in such a way that it can be ridden in a flowing rhythm, and no matter how big or small your horse is you should be able to ride this without hanging all over the horse’s mouth.  The key to this is good use of the angles. You’ll notice there is more than one way to jump each element, in case any rider should already find themselves with a tired mount.

More fences to come…..
If you’re wondering what this post is all about see:
Amateur event rider, aspiring photographer. Technologist by day.


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