Rides usually are weekend activities. For two-day and three day rides (multi-day), competitors arrive on the first day to set up camp for themselves and their horse or horses, riders present their horse to the judges for a physical exam and trot them in hand or longe them. The pre-ride examinations will be used to determine the FITNESS OF THAT EQUINE TO START THE RIDE. Equines showing evidence of contagious disease are ineligible to compete, and shall be promptly removed from the grounds. Any blemishes or other pre-existing conditions are noted. The riders are briefed in a general meeting. Maps are reviewed and veterinary hold criteria are given. The necessary ride speed is given, and if the ride is a pace race the minimum and maximum times are given.
Depending on the organization that sanctions the ride, a CTR may begin with either staggered starts or one or more mass starts. Rides that involve judged trail obstacles often use staggered starts to reduce the competitors' waiting time to try the obstacles. Various organizations offer different divisions, based either on experience of the horse/rider team, age of the rider, weight of the rider, or other criteria. The average speed of a CTR usually is set between 3 and 6 miles per hour, this would depend on the level or division you have entered.
Competitors set their own pace and, unless instructed otherwise, in the gait they prefer. The choice of speed and gait in each segment of the ride is an important tactic. Competitors are observed by the judges at various points along the trail. The horse's pulse and respiration ("P&R") are checked periodically, during mandatory holds/lunch stops. During these stops/holds which are generally between 10–20 minutes or more depending on ride management, you may take care of yourself and your mount. Lunch is either provided by the rider or ride management depending on the CTR. Any feed given to the horse must be carried by the rider.
When riders reach a certain mile marker at the end of the day's ride, they must maintain forward motion into camp, with no further stops allowed. Thus, it is the last opportunity to make timing adjustments. Riders who are ahead of time may stop at that point for as long as they like, but once leaving it, may not stop until they get into camp. The only exception to the rule is if the horse wishes to drink at a creek crossing, which is permitted in the interest of good horsemanship. However, riders are not to linger, but simply let the horse drink and move on. Riders behind schedule need to speed up to get to camp.
At the end of the day, all horses are again presented to the judges for an exam. The Horsemanship Judge checks each competitor's trailer and camp for safety and care of the horse. If the competition is a one-day ride, awards for these horses and riders will be given. If a two-day or three day ride, there is another ride briefing to recap the day and announce maps, trail, speed, distance and hold criteria for the following day.
The ride on next day is similar to the previous day in terms of routine and rules, but the distance may be shorter and the ride itself may be on a different trail. There will be a check of the horses' soundness before competitors are timed out to begin riding. After arriving back at camp, horses are cleaned up and presented to the judges one final time. When all the riders have completed the final check out, scores are tallied, an award ceremony is held and all riders are given their score cards.
Any light weight style saddle allowed
Any style bridle allowed
Leg Protection advised
Any style relaxed riding apparel
Boots, hat and long pants required
Horse supplies: tack, buckets, brushes
Horse feed, such as grain and hay
Personal supplies: clock, boots, and clothing, including rain gear.
Camping supplies: tent, sleeping bag, lantern, tarp, and other equipment.
Food supplies, cooking utensils, ice chest, camp stove.
Trailer and supplies
first aid kit
Spare parts and repair supplies
Coggins test, veterinary certificate, brand inspection, & registration papers
Maps and directions
Trail supplies: watch, water bottles, hoof pick, knife, lead rope, halter, sponge on a string.
Katie's Bright Spirit
OF PS ISH, chestnut leopard appy
Having checked her compass, KC now double checks her map.
Shown by Robin Nere
Check in and inspection
Upon arrival at the ride site, setting up camp competitors report to the Ride Secretary, complete registration, weigh in the rider and tack, and then provided with a ride packet. The ride packet contains a penny or number bib for the rider, a halter/bridle tag for the horse, and a number to be displayed on the horses stable area. Packets may also include an agenda, rider's list, and ride map. Rider must wear the number bib assigned you and display all other required identification at your camp and/or stable/corral. While presenting your horse to the judges, they may introduce themselves and answer any questions you might have. Most competitions have two or more judges, the Horsemanship Judge is looking for a rider who is attentive to the horse and to the Vet Judge. The Vet Judge assesses the condition of horse to establish a baseline. The horse that looks as good on the last day as it did on the first day will score well. Blemishes, scars, and marks are noted. Points are not taken off for blemishes or minor cuts at check-in and are scored at checkout only if they are worse. The exception to this is soundness, which can be scored off at check-in, and if severe, may disqualify the horse from competition. The judge also notes if the horse will stand quietly for examination and allow its feet to be picked up, and this behavior is scored under manners on the horse's score card. The horse is trotted out after the veterinary exam. This is both a horsemanship and a soundness component of the competition. There are two basic methods for in-hand presentations. The first is to longe, the second is to lead the horse in hand while at a working trot in a wide circles in opposite directions or figure eights depending on the vet judge. It is the rider's option on which method to use. This presentation will be used to determine any lamness by the vet judges and may be score in horsemenaship.
The required speed for each division (in mph) is announced at the pre-ride briefing.
Rate Your Miles – CTR - If the terrain allows, the following is an easy rule of thumb to go by. Trot for six minutes then walk for three minutes. Keep repeating that, you and your horse will finish within the time frame (not too fast and not too slow). It also allows for an even distribution of work and rest.
Ride maps are sometimes provided which show distances between key markers along the trail. Based on this information, riders calculate what time they should be at each key marker. Miles divided speed equals the time (hours plus fraction) Riders multiply the fraction by 60 to get the minutes, add the minutes to the hours and arrive at the time. There are also mileage conversion charts available for riders who need them.
Riders at a most competitions leave camp one at a time with their departure time recorded. This is not a racing start; horses need to stay relatively settled and maintain a safe distance between one another. Each competitor proceeds down the trail at the specified speed for the division entered. Riders commonly set their watch for 12:00 when they begin their ride in order to simplify their time calculations.
Judging and Obstacles
At various points along the trail, judges are posted. Sometimes they observe riders traverse some natural obstacle such as a deep gully or creek, large logs across the trail, or a bridge or boggy place. Other times, they give riders specific instructions, such as to Rein-back or sidepass the horse, open and close a gate, or travel at a specified gait such as the Trot or Canter. Riders may be asked to complete obstacles either in-hand or under saddle.
If riders have to wait their turn, they must keep track of the time from arrival until they are able to be judged and give this time to the judge or his/her secretary. If riders finish the trail late, this time is given back to the competitor.
Other examples of judged obstacles include:
- Emergency stops from trot or canter.
- Back between or around trees, uphill, or in water
- Sidepass up to a tree, over log, or in water
- Mount and Dismount, including offside
- Tie a ribbon on a tree or tree limb.
- Climb or descend a bank, hill or cliff.
- Step or Back over a large log.
Pulse and Respiration Stops
There are generally one or two Pulse and Respiration (P&R)Holds, 10 to 20 minutes long each day (although there may be a third at discretion of ride management). At most ride briefings, the Trailmaster will indicate verbally or on maps where the P&R stops will be.
Depending on the mileage of the competition the first check usually occurs between 7–10 miles after leaving camp. If there is a second hold it will be another 7–15 miles into the ride.
When riders arrive at the P&R checkpoint, a your time will be recorded. After 10 minutes, workers will come and check the horse's pulse and respiration. If the horse has a pulse OR respiration rate over the citeria givene, the horse is stressed and will be held at the P&R an additional 10 minutes. Holds are generally scored. If the horse still fails to meet the criteria specified by the Judge, it is held for a 2nd 10-minute period and lose more points. If the horse does not recover after a 3rd hold, it is pulled from competition and arrangements are made to trailer the horse back to camp.
Note that for each Hold, 10 minutes is added to the maximum and minimum times to ensure that a horse that might be stressed is not stressed further trying to make up time.
When the P&R time is up and your organizations requirements are completed, you may proceed with your ride. It is also good etiquette to wait until any adjoining horses are also done and ask permission from that rider before leaving.
Return to Camp- FINISH LINE-In Timer
Coming towards the end of your ride, most CTR organizations require the rider/mount to "maintain a forward motion (trot or gait equivalent)" at a certain mile marker before the finish line. This helps to assure that all horses reach the P&R in a similar elevated state of exertion.
Upon arriving back at camp, usually in the mid to late afternoon, all riders report to the timer after crossing the finish line, the times are noted. Multi-day teams on the first and/or second day after checking in with the timer, return to their camp, remove tack, and get the horse ready to present to the vet judge at a preset time
Single day competitors and multi-day riders on the last day of the ride, may be subjected to a CRI/PR (Cardiac Recovery Index) in 10 minutes after crossing the finish line, depending on the organization. The horse and rider team may then return to their camp site to take care of their horse and any personal needs. After a preset time given at the ride brief, generally 60 to 90 minutes from their finish time, horses are again presented to the Vet Judge for a check similar to that performed at the Check-in and can be extensive, looking for any differences in condition and attitude from how the horse looked at the beginning.
The CTR Horsemanship Division
The Horsemanship Judge will score each rider's camp set up to ensure that each horse is being well cared for and note any safety issues. Judges may answer questions from competitors at these times.
Typically, condition, soundness, "trail ability" and horsemanship are all scored.
- P&R Scores
- Mucous Membrane coloration (MM), noted by Gum Color - The normal color of gums is a light pink. A whitish, dark pink, reddish-deep pink, or blue gum color is an indication of a medical issue.
- Muscle Tone (MT)
- Capillary Refill Time (CRT)
- Hydration (Hyd) - checked by a pinch test done at the base of the neck close to the shoulder
- Gut Sounds, a check for colic, overheating, and other forms of distress.
- Movement, Attitude and Willingness (MAW)
Chronic stumbling or forging may be penalized. A horse that develops thumps, colic, dehydration, or ties upis removed from competition so that immediate medical attention can be provided.
- Gai(Way of Going)
- Leg or tendon soreness - Heat and/or pain may be penalized. Blemishes are noted at check-in and are generally not penalized.
- Withers, Back, Loin or Girth (WBLG) soreness - often influenced by tack fit rider balance.
- Edema, rubs, or inflammation at cinch, mouth, chin groove, or legs
Horses in poor physical condition or who are unsound will be pulled from competition if they fail to pass veterinary inspections or show distress at any time of the event. Some symptoms of concern include:
- Excessively high respiration rate: If the horse does not recover appropriately at the P&R it may be pulled.
- Thumps - When a horse develops constant, rhythmic ticking in the flanks. In a severe case, the whole abdomen will have this ticking motion.
Trail Ability and Manners includes:
- Standing quietly for examination and when a rider mounts.
- Attention to rider, attentiveness to the trail, sure-footed and well controlled at all times.
- Maneuverability on obstacles. Horses are to accomplish tasks quietly and be attentive to the rider.
- Disobedience, head tossing, buddying, or refusals are penalized.
- Exceeding time limits for obstacles is penalized.
Horsemanship criteria includes:
- Horse grooming
- In-Hand presentation
- Saddleand other tack fit
- Rider form and balance, trail safety and courtesy.
An equestrian sport based on controlled long-distance races. It is one of the international competitions recognized by the FEI. In an endurance ride the winning horse is the first one to cross the finish line while stopping periodically to pass a veterinary check that deems the animal in good health and fit to continue. Most endurance rides are either 50 or 100 miles (160 km) long. Any breed can compete, but the Arabian or the Appaloosa that generally dominates the top levels because of both the breed's stamina and natural endurance abilities.
CM dapple grey mule, john
Trained to tail, Webster gets a little rest time.
Photo by Robin Nere. Model owned by Betty Hook
Rider attire is usually very informal, and tack is designed to be light and comfortable for horse and rider. Before the ride, horses are inspected by a veterinarian to ensure they are fit to perform in the ride. Additionally, riders are given a map of the course, which shows the route, the places for compulsory halts, and any natural obstacles (such as ditches, steep hills, and water crossings). The ride is divided into sections, with different names (legs, phases, etc.), depending on sanctioning organization. After each phase, horses are stopped for a veterinary inspection (sometimes called a "vetgate"), where they are checked for soundness and dehydration, with their pulse and respiration taken. To continue the ride, the horse must pass the examination, including reducing its heart rate below that specified for the event, typically 64 bpm, although terrain and weather may require the ride veterinarians to set a different maximum target. The riders' time keeps running until their horses reach the required target, so it is important that the horses recover as soon as possible. Any horse deemed unfit to continue (due to lameness or excessive fatigue, for example) is eliminated from further competition. After the veterinary inspection, the horse must be held for an additional time (usually between 20-45 minutes), at which time it is fed and watered. If the veterinary inspection is on the course rather than at base camp, ride management usually delivers to the inspection location a cache of riders' personal gear, food, and water.
Riders are free to choose their pace during the competition, adjusting to the terrain and their mount's condition. Therefore, they must have a great knowledge of pace, knowing when to slow down or speed up during the ride, as well as a great knowledge of their horse's condition and signs of tiring. Riders may also choose to ride, or may dismount and walk or jog with their horse without penalty. However, they must be mounted when they cross the starting and finish lines.
The terrain riders compete over varies greatly from ride to ride. However, natural obstacles (called "hazards"), are marked on the trails with red flags on the right and white flags on the left. When so marked, riders must pass through the flags. In some areas, wilderness or undeveloped areas are difficult to find; in these places, no more than 10% of the route can be on hard-surfaced roads.
Determining the winner
Under the rules of the FEI and AERC, the first horse to cross the line and pass the vet check as "fit to continue" is the winner. Under the rules of competitive trail riding and the endurance rules in some nations (though not international competition nor that in the USA), as well as for limited-distance endurance rides (25-49 miles in one day), the winner is determined by a combination of speed and the recovery rate of the horse or by a required standard.
Additional awards are usually given to the best-conditioned horses who finish in the top 10 for distances of 50 miles (80 km) or more. The Best Conditioned, or "BC" award is generally more prized than finishing first, as it is determined by a combination of speed, weight carried, and veterinary scores. Thus, a horse finishing fourth, but carrying a heavier rider than the first place finisher and with equal vet scores, still has a good chance to win the BC award.
Two well-known American 100-mile (160 km) endurance rides are the The Western States Trail Ride, commonly known as theTevis Cup, held in California, and the Old Dominion ride, held in Virginia. Additionally, the top riders and horses compete at the World Equestrian Games, the Endurance World Championships, and the European Endurance Championships.
Endurance is much less formal than many other equestrian competitions, with riders choosing clothes for comfort. However, riders are required to dress in a way that preserves the image of the sport.
An equestrian helmet is required for nearly all sanctioned rides, including the AERC and FEI. At FEI competitions, riders must wear riding breeches or riding tights, correct footwear, and a shirt with a collar.
Endurance riders usually use a specialized saddle that is designed to be lightweight yet comfortable to horse and rider for long hours of riding. At the highest levels, it is usually a variation on the English saddle in shape, although it may have wider panels and stirrups with a wider tread. Regardless of design, endurance saddles are very light to ensure the horse does not have to carry unnecessary weight. Many endurance saddles have extra metal rings for the attachment of equipment. At lower levels, lightweight endurance designs based on western saddles are popular. Various experimental designs are also common, including treeless and flexible panel saddles.
Bridles for the horses may use a wide variety of bits or hackamores. Riders also often add a breastplate to keep the saddle in place while traveling over rough terrain. Use of a crupper is not common, but sometimes seen to keep the saddle from sliding forward on horses with a certain build. Protective boots may be used on a horse's legs, though boots also cause problems in some types of terrain (they may slip, can collect burrs and dirt, and if crossing water may become waterlogged, any of which can irritate the legs of the horse and lead to lameness), so use varies by the type of ride and the rider's preferences.
In Hand Trail
Puttin On The Glitz, Black Tobiano Spotted Saddle Horse Filly, a Breyer Action Stock Foal CM by Sudekum performing over ground poles during In Hand Trail.
Morning Song, an PS Stone Weanling shown by Joanna Ricahrdson, negotiating the gate during In Hand Trail.
Little Raven, a custom PS Stone Weanling, stands quieting while handler picks up a slicker from the pole. Handler tries the slicker on then takes it back off and rehangs the slicker on the post before moving on to Negotiate the gate which is the next obstacle on the course. Entry owned and shown by Joanna Richardson.
This class is usually open to yearlings and 2 year olds who are not being shown under saddle yet.
But since it is model horse world IMEHA opens it to all ages. Most of the obstacles are generally the same as for standard trail. The in-hand trail class includes the following obstacles: a gate, walk and trot-overs, back throughs, side passing, a mail box or raincoat, a bridge, turning in a box, and walking and/or trotting through and around cones.
Most shows now use a rope gate rather than a true wooden gate. The gate is made of 2 jump standards set about 6 feet apart with a thick rope tied to one side and looped over the other. The handler leads the horse to the gate, picks up the loop end, leads the horse through the gate (the opening between the jump standards) and then replaces the loop end to close the gate. While doing this the horse should stand calmly and walk forward willingly when asked. The best performance of this obstacle is done when the horse is moved in the exact positions that he would be in, were someone on his back opening the gate. That means that he should stop parallel to the gate, with just enough distance for the handler to not be crowded. After being led through the gate opening, the handler should back the horse so he is again parallel to the gate and his whithers even with the spot the loop hooks over.
When showing in-hand trail though, the handler is not supposed to go over the bridge with their horse. While walking along side the bridge the horse should travel straight across and centered on the bridge. He should not appear nervous or try to go quickly across but it is allowed that the horse sniff the bridge and/or puts his head low while crossing it. As in regular trail classes, railed bridges are an illegal obstacle.
Should consist of 4 or more ground poles that are laid a set distance apart (2 feet for walk-overs, 3 feet for trot-overs). The horse should make his way over without hitting any of the poles with it's feet and ideally should set each foot halfway between the pole it is stepping over and the next pole in line. The toughest part for some handlers is the fact that they should not go over the poles with the horse! The handler should be able to walk along the side of the poles while the horse travels over the center of them. A challenge i s when the poles are raised. Raised polesshould have the ends resting in a jump cup style bracket so pole will not roll. Limit for raised poles is 4-6".
Any style of back throughs is allowed set up straight, L shaped, T shaped or in a zigzag. Back throughs may also consist of a triangle of cones or barrels that the horse has to back between or around. The horse should travel evenly spaced between the obstacle, turning when the handler asks.
Side pass either direction over a straight pole, an L or V where the handler must turn the horse on the haunches or forehand at the corner.
Mail Box or Raincoat:
Handler and horse may walk (or trot according to the pattern) your horse right up to the mail box and stop with the horse with his barrel about a foot from the mail box. The handler then opens the mail box, removes the envelope and holds it up for the judge to see and then replaces it. A raincoat is done very similarly. Stop the horse next to the raincoat (which will probably be hung over a pole bending pole or similar sturdy item), remove it and lay it across the horse's back and then replace the raincoat to its original position.
Turning in a Box:
This obstacle is a real challenge as most shows set up the box 6'x6' amd is not large enough for you to pivot the horse or walk in a circle. That means the handler must move both the shoulder of the horse and his hind end at the same time. Handler may not enter the box except for when you may step inside the "corners" of the box as you turn.
Walk and Trot Throughs:
Walk and trot throughs may be set up in combination with walk/trot-overs, but generally consist of several cones being set out for the handler to walk or trot the horse between (in a serpentine or series of circles/figure eights). Depending on the distance between cones the handler may or may not want to go around the cones as well. If they are set further apart and the horse can handle weaving through the cones, the handler should stay on one side and simply push or pull the horse around the cones. If you need to make a deeper S to be able to get through the obstacle, then the handler will probably want to weave with their horse.
Pack Thru Trail or Pack String Trail
This class is for packing either a single horse or a pack sting through an obstacle trail course. Team will be judged at each obstacle. Packers may be lead on foot or by another horse or mule.
Ride One, Lead one
Breyer OF spotted mule "Q"
Rider must ride a regular arena trail course while leading a packed mule also. Very popular at live animal mule shows.
Shown by Robin Nere
Riders are judged on their skills and abilities to guide their horses through a natural obstacle course. A "TT" consists of a ride with approximately 10-12 judged natural obstacles that appear along a trail of several miles in parks or private property. This is not an arena event
The program is open to all breeds from Icelandic ponies to Warmbloods, as well as all riding disciplines. The rides consist of obstacles and situations people might encounter on a trail ride. A course is designed using the natural obstacles that already exist on a particular trail such as walking over logs, opening a gate, or maneuvering through a creek. In riding you may also encounter obstacles such as birthday parties, family BBQ's, volleyball games and mountain bikes...these are considered "natural" obstacles as well.
This is not a timed event, but casual in nature. Riders may be given a time limit to ride through a particular obstacle so that riders behind them don't get held back. Riders may ride as individuals or groups...so family participation is encouraged as family or friends may ride together.
Required Saddle, Tack and Equipment:
Any type saddle and any type bridle or bosal with mecate, side-pull, hackamore, "natural" hackamore with properly tied mecate as shown in Appendix B, are mandatory. No bareback pads are allowed. It is the rider's responsibility to determine the appropriateness of his tack and to ensure that such tack is fitted and used properly. A halter with lead rope or halter bridle and hoof pick must be carried on the ride. A knife capable of cutting a lead rope or tack, must be carried by all adult riders. Junior riders 17 and under shall not be asked to carry or use a knife.
Any type clothing suitable for riding is acceptable. Appropriate riding footwear is required. Helmets are recommended
Riders are judged individually and strictly on how well they negotiated their horse through an obstacle with an emphasis on calmness and safety.
OF PS Lucky Sevens, Chestnut Appy
Having led Cinn over the dry creek bed, rider remounts and urges him to canter up the hill. While each element is judged, trials are casual with any type of tack allowed.
Shown by Robin Nere
Obstacle Skills That Are Judged
- Leading: Horse to follow willingly, not crowding or lagging. Excess rope shall be held in the non-leading hand.
- The horse must be lead with a halter and lead rope, not the reins, with the following exceptions:
- Horses wearing a halter-bridle do not have to be lead with a separate halter. The rein must be unclipped from the bit rings and correctly fastened to the leading-ring of the halter bridle.
- If a horse is wearing a bosal [Spanish hackamore] and a mecate, or snaffle bridle and a mecate, the rider may tie the mecate into a leading-hitch (see Appendix A). Riders will not be penalized for using the mecate, so hitched, in lieu of a halter and lead rope.
- Horses wearing a Western bridle with a bosal and mecate [under bridle] may be lead by the mecate
- Reins should be secured to the horn of Western saddles, or knotted and/or appropriately secured, if no saddle horn is available.
- Stirrups without fenders on saddles such as English, Endurance, Australian, etc., shall be secured by running the stirrups up the leathers, or secured by crossing over the saddle
- A rider ground handling his horse through challenging terrain, over logs, through tight spaces shall secure a safe position prior to asking his horse to negotiate the obstacle.
- Mounting: The rider must check cinch. The stirrup does not have to be laid over the saddle seat. Horse will stand quietly and not move off when mounted. Style of mounting is not considered, only a smooth mount that does not unbalance the horse. A rider must have the reins in hand while mounting.
- Dismounting: Horse will stand quietly and not move off. Style of the dismount not considered, only a smooth mount that does not unbalance the horse. A rider must have the reins in hand while dismounting.
- Hoof check: Horse will stand quietly. The criterion for this obstacle is a safe leg pick up, not the method of cueing the horse to pick up the leg. If the rider is holding the horse rather than tying him, letting go of the lead rope will be penalized.
- Water crossing: The horse should walk quietly through the water. Horses will not be penalized for stopping to drink. Horses will not be penalized for acknowledging the obstacle before entering it.
- Uphill: Before beginning ascent check cinch and breast collar, if used. A rider is to be positioned appropriately, maintaining the center of balance. No penalty for holding the mane or neck to secure the forward position. Horse to negotiate a slope in a safe manner. At riders' discretion, horse may stop to blow, as needed. If the rider is asked to stop on an uphill and there is sufficient room, the rider shall rest their horse so that all four hooves are on ground that is as level as possible. The location of the stop shall be clearly marked and given in the directions for the uphill. At no time should a rider position his mount, haunches toward a drop off. For purposes of cinch check requirement, the Senior Judge determines an uphill obstacle. Ride management will use the word "uphill" in the directions each rider receives from the obstacle judge.
- Downhill: Before beginning descent check cinch and crupper if used. The rider to be positioned appropriately maintaining the center of balance. Riders may use a hand on the saddle to support themselves, but must not do so in such a way as to unbalance the horse. Horse to negotiate the slope in a safe manner. At rider’s discretion, horse may stop to blow, as needed. I f the rider is asked to stop on a downhill and there is sufficient room, the rider shall rest their horse so that all four hooves are on ground that is as level as possible. The location of the stop shall be clearly marked and given in the directions for the downhill. At no time should a rider position his mount, haunches toward a drop off. For purposes of cinch check requirement, the Senior Judge determines a downhill obstacle. Ride management will use the word "downhill" in the directions each rider receives from the obstacle judge.
- Stepover: This is a forward motion obstacle. Horse to look at an obstacle and proceed over carefully, avoiding striking the obstacle. Size of an animal relative to an obstacle to be considered. Small horses and ponies not to be penalized for hopping very tall stepovers, if they otherwise negotiate the obstacle calmly and with deliberation. For consecutive, in stride stepovers, ride management will endeavor to select obstacles that are no higher than approximately 12 inches.
- Bridge: The horse should walk across quietly. No penalty for acknowledging the obstacle before starting to cross. Horse should step on and off the bridge quietly.
- Gate: Competitors may be required to negotiate a gate either mounted or dismounted. The horse and rider combination will move through the obstacle quietly, deliberately and under the rider's direction.
- Drag or Pull: Check cinch required before taking the rope or drag obstacle in hand. The rider may hold rope or dally. No tying hard and fast. The rider should demonstrate awareness by looking at both the drag obstacle and the direction they are going. The drag is a forward motion obstacle; the pull is a backward motion obstacle. The horse or rider should never become entangled in the rope. The horse is to stand quietly during preparation then pull or drag an obstacle quietly and in control. Wrapping the rope around the rider's working hand is to be severely penalized. Excess rope should be held in the rein hand, never in the working hand.
- Standing tied: Some obstacles may require riders to tie their horse. Horses will be tied with the halter and lead rope or correctly configured halter-bridle, or other approved means, using a knot that is safe and appropriate for the situation and horse. The knot must be secure and the horse must be tied in a location that is safe for the horse, the rider, and any bystanders, other tied horses and their handlers. Horses will stand quietly while tied.
- Stationary Obstacles: These are such things as slickers, balloons, maps, trash, etc. A rider is to maintain control of the horse as he acknowledges the obstacles.
- Moving Obstacles: These are such things as backpackers, bicycles, baby strollers, vehicles and carts. A rider is to maintain control of the horse as he acknowledges the obstacles. Safety of all parties, including those persons providing the obstacle, is the primary concern.
- Jumping: Jumping on, into, off of, through, or over any obstacle, unless required to do so, is a major fault.
- Whoa: At a walk, an animal should stop on command with little aid from the rider. Effort will increase slightly for the jog, and again for the lope. The horse should stand quietly after the stop.
- Be able to ask horse to stand quietly.
- Execute all gaits calmly and as directed. All gaits natural to a breed are acceptable.
- Be able to move the horse laterally [side to side].
- Make turns on the forehand and/or hindquarters.
- Be able to back the horse in a straight line and/or around corners. When backing, the rider should demonstrate awareness by looking in the direction they are traveling. Riders should not be instructed to back either their horse's front or back feet over a raised object.
- Emergency Dismount: Be able to dismount quickly and safely without the use of stirrups while maintaining control.
- Cinch Check: Is a pass or fail of 0 or 2 points. Rider may test the cinch for excess slack by tugging on it. This may be done either from the ground or in the saddle. If done from the ground, rider will be judged on dismount and mount. Cinch checks are required before mounting, going up or down hills, or pulling and/or dragging which are all considered stresses on the saddle. Only one cinch check per obstacle shall be required.
- Awareness: This is a very broad and important category.
- Rider awareness: The rider should be paying attention to the directions with the horse positioned at a safe distance from the judge. The rider should evaluate the obstacle for potential cautions before proceeding, and during the obstacle. If the rider is asked to answer a question (i.e., where are we on this map?), perform a specific skill (i.e., tie a specific knot, using only specified knots found in the State Trail Trials Rulebook. Use only specified knots included in Appendix C & D.), or lead their horse, and the rider does not perform the skill correctly, the judge may use this category to assess points.
- Horse awareness: It is a fault if the horse is too aware by spooking, shying, or spinning or if the horse is unaware and is just "going through the motions". If a horse clips or stumbles because of lack of awareness, score here (see "Balance").
- Horse’s Response to Cues: When the rider applies aids or cues to the horse, the horse is to react appropriately. The rider should not have to resort to very strong aids to obtain a response from the horse, nor should cues create a reaction whereby the horse overreacts (i.e., side passing or backing too far). The horse should approach an obstacle as cued (i.e., straight on, side pass) and not avoid direct approach. The horse should stand quietly while mounted (slight shifting of weight is okay). If the horse is tied, the horse should stand quietly and not pull back.
- Rider's Control: The rider must maintain control of the horse at all times. This will be maintained by having the rider control either with the reins or lead rope at all times. Rider's control of the horse is whether mounted or un-mounted. Rider should also control the horse by knowing HOW to ask their horse to execute the obstacle as well as keep the horse under control if the horse shies or spooks. If un-mounted, the rider is to lead as set forth in rule 11.1. The horse should be lead quietly either behind or slightly to the side of the rider. While leading the horse the rider should not let the horse crowd or lean on rider.
- Balance: This applies to both rider and horse. The rider should be well balanced in the saddle. For uphill, the rider should lean slightly forward with legs balanced under rider and not hitting horse's flanks, and deep in the saddle but not hitting the back of cantle. For downhill, the rider should lean slightly back. The rider is not to lean excessively forward, back or sideways. The horse is to be balanced while negotiating obstacles. For downhill obstacle hindquarters should be under the horse and the horse should not lean on forehand. While negotiating step overs, the horse is to be balanced and pick up feet and avoid clipping and stumbling. Slight brush okay.
- On Course: The rider is to follow directions as given and stay on course. Excessive response, avoidance or rider's misunderstanding of the direction will be penalized. The participant must remain within the boundaries of the obstacle as marked. Avoiding or going outside marked boundaries constitutes being off course
Pale Moon Rising
Grey Paint mare, Lacey resin
Moon quietly crosses the bridge over a dry creek bed.
Shown by Robin Nere
A Pirates Life
OF PS TB, Nite Spot, Bay frame Overo
Although each obstacle is judged, trail trials are casual and it is encouraged that family or friends ride together. Here, Pirate is the last of his group to cross the bridge before heading up the hill.
Shown by Robin Nere