David O'Connor and Lauren Kieffer

Eventing: Intro to Cross-Country Riding

Posted: January 2017
Length: 08:05
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Watch Olympic gold medalist David O’Connor and Olympic eventer Lauren Kieffer demonstrate the basics of riding cross-country in three-day eventing.

About This Video

The cross-country phase in three-day eventing tests technical accuracy, the ability to adjust speed and direction, and the horse and rider partnership. In this video, Olympic gold medalist David O’Connor and Olympic rider Lauren Kieffer discuss correct body position, holding a line, speed, and jumping banks and ditches—all crucial skills in a successful cross-country round.

For more information about three-day eventing, please visit the United States Eventing Association and US Equestrian’s eventing page.

Key Principles: 

  • Rider Responsibilities
  • Direction and Speed
  • The Correct Positions
  • Jumping a Bank
  • Jumping a Ditch
  • Putting It All Together

About The Expert

David O'Connor and Lauren Kieffer
Olympic eventing athletes

Olympic gold medalist David O’Connor was the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team’s technical advisor from 2013 to 2017. O’Connor began riding in international competition in 1986 and has since competed and medaled in many high-level three-day events for the U.S. Eventing Team—including riding Giltedge for the team silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, then winning an individual gold (and setting a record-breaking dressage score in Olympic eventing competition) with Custom Made and team bronze with Giltedge at the 2000 Games in Sydney. With Giltedge, he also won team gold and individual silver at the 1999 Pan American Games and team gold at the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain. In 1997, O’Connor became only the second American rider to win Great Britain’s Badminton CCI4* when he piloted Custom Made to victory. O’Connor was the FEI’s highest-ranked three-day rider in the world in 2000 and was the United States Eventing Association’s top rider in the US in 1998 and 1999, among many other achievements. O’Connor retired from competition in 2004 to focus on coaching and administration. He served as president of the United States Equestrian Federation from 2004 to 2012, was an FEI Bureau member from 2008 to 2011, and is a course designer at the three-star and four-star level. O’Connor and his wife Karen—also an Olympic team silver and bronze medalist—operate O’Connor Equestrian, which is based in The Plains, Virginia, in the summer and in Ocala, Florida, in the winter.

For more information about the O’Connors, please visit their website and follow them on Facebook.

Lauren Kieffer was a member of the U.S. Eventing Team that competed at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She got her start competing in hunter/jumper shows in her native Illinois but switched to eventing at age 12. Kieffer was selected for the United States Equestrian Federation High Performance training list in 2009 and has been selected three times for the United States Equestrian Team Developing Rider List. In 2014, she won the USEF National CCI4* Championship—a feat she repeated in 2016. She’s ridden for U.S. Eventing Teams that have medaled at the Pan American Games and Nations Cup events, including winning gold at the 2015 Pan American Games and the 2016 FEI Nations Cup CICO3* at the Land Rover Great Meadow International presented by Adequan. She is based in Middleburg, Virginia.

For more information about Lauren Kieffer, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.