In real life, cross country jumps are made from big, heavy pieces of lumber, such as telephone poles or tree trunks. They are designed to withstand a heavy knock from a jumping horse and last for many years.
Instead of nails, bolts or wires, most of these jumps are bound together by polypropylene rope, which is safer for the horse and rider because it is easy to cut in order to disassemble the jump should a horse or rider become trapped in the obstacle, or if repairs are needed. To be sure that your model horse cross country jump is as authentic as its real-life counterpart, this article will show you how to tie the rails as they would be seen in a three-day event.
To start, glue your jump rails and posts together with the tacky glue. Allow this to dry before proceeding.
Cut a piece of the perle cotton string about 18" long. Knot one end into a loop, then trim the "tail" of the thread short. Thread the other end through your embroidery needle.
Tie the string snug against the post, keeping the knotted loop close to the top rail. Tie a single knot to secure the loop and string in place.
Bind the top and bottom string together across the face of the post by threading the needle up from the bottom, to the top, and back down again. Try to keep the tension consistent while binding the strings together.
Once you have bound the strings across the face of the pole, make one loop and push the needle through it to create a knot. Snug this down against the row of binding that you have made.
Push the needle through the last five or six binds and pull the string all the way through to bury the tail end.
Finally, trim off the string as close as possible to the binds.
When finished, the ropework will look like this from the landing side of the jump. A little dab of glue can be used to hold the rope in place and keep the knot from coming undone.
When your rope work is all done, landscape around your jump with grass and other decorations to make it as life-like as possible. Your new jump is now ready to go to the shows!
There are many reference books available that describe cross country jump construction. For more ideas for cross country jump styles, check out Eventing or Combined Training magazines, spectator programs from major events such as the Kentucky Three-Day Event, or attend an event in person - and of course, the internet has a treasure trove of reference images. The Kentucky Horse Park, where BreyerFest is held, has a superb cross country course and you can study jump construction up close. Wherever you find inspiration, your models will soon be soaring high!