What exactally IS competitive trail riding? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 02-20-2011, 04:13 PM Thread Starter
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What exactally IS competitive trail riding?

So I'm farmilliar with regular trail riding, but what is competitive trail riding? I'm surely going to look it up, but I would just like to see if anyone has actually done it that could explain what goes on. :3
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post #2 of 11 Old 02-20-2011, 04:23 PM
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Yes, me too! Thanks, sounds like loads of fun.
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post #3 of 11 Old 02-20-2011, 04:40 PM
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There are several organizations that put on competitive trail rides. Each has their own rules and objectives to what is a successful ride. But in general the concept is to promote sound and safe trail horses.

I used to do NATRC (north american trail ride conference) Most of their rides are weekend events. Usually covering 40-50 miles over two days. The offer several classes and divisions. Open, Competitive Pleasure and Novice with Heavyweight, Lightweight and Junior riders.

Think of a comptetitive trail ride like a road ralley. All horses need to travel the same trail, at the same speed, while carrying their rider. They are judged on conditioning and horsemanship skills. They are not a race. A set course will be set up, Maps furnished and a time to achieve the various check points will be set. The rides I participated in allowed a 30 minute window. 15 minutes too early or 15 minutes too late and you were out of the game. So you needed to learn to rate your horses speed to cover the prescribed distance.

Judges will periodically watch you and your horse deal with obsticles. Depending on what is available in your area, These may be be natural obsticles, like crossing a log, climbing a steep hill, crossing water or they may be more contrived such as opening a gate while mounted, sidepassing over and hanging a slicker on a tree.

I found folks at these events to be extremely helpful in helping each other and almost became family after a summer of competing together.

The biggest draw back is finding events in your area. With todays fuel cost, It is hard to justify driving 10 hours to compete. So check with the various organization and see who has events in your general area. www.natrc.org
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post #4 of 11 Old 02-20-2011, 04:46 PM
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Sounds like quite a challenge to be able to time it just right on the trail but what fun. Thank you so much for the info, I will check it out :)
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post #5 of 11 Old 02-20-2011, 05:50 PM
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It does depend on the association involved to a degree.
NATRC and a few other organizations are longer distance trails at a set pace where the rider and the horse are judged on trail manners and horsemanship. NATRC competitive trail has vet checks during the ride and obstacles the use to judge the horses responsiveness with. NATRC trails are 20 -50 miles depending on the division

ACTHA has what are called competitive trail Challenges. these are much shorter rides being only 6-10 miles and the horse and rider do not go through vet checks except a general lamenesss trot out at the end of the ride. Horses are not judged in between the obstacles they are judged only at the obstacles. ACTHA rides are good for someone just starting out or wanting to begin to condition a horse or for someone who can't handle the longer trails of NATRC.

I've done both NATRC and ACTHA rides I'm currently doing more ACTHA rides because there are more of them close to me then NATRC rides.

Originally Posted by ButtInTheDirt View Post
So I'm farmilliar with regular trail riding, but what is competitive trail riding? I'm surely going to look it up, but I would just like to see if anyone has actually done it that could explain what goes on. :3
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post #6 of 11 Old 02-20-2011, 06:03 PM
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NATRC rides have a check in on Friday afternoon-eveing, The vet looks at your horse before you ride and his scoring of the horse during the ride will be a comparision of his movement compared to before the ride.

Once you have checked in, You are competing until the event is over. So you could be judged at any moment during the day. They come and check and see how you camp with your horse and a score is given. So it is much more than 2-3 obsticles along a short trail.They have two judges, One is a vet and grades the horses conditioning, The other is a horsemanship judge and grades on your ability to control your horse thru the various obsticles.

When I got back into horses 20 years ago, I needed a lot of review and education on spending the weekend with my horse. I found NATRC to be a Great learning experience. The guidelines on how to camp with a horse taught me a lot. Watching the vet score the horses Pulse & Respiration, The recovery rates, hydration and gut sounds all taught me how to take care of my horse under stressful conditions. I think every horse man should compete in a few of these types of events to better understand their horses.
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post #7 of 11 Old 02-20-2011, 06:28 PM
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i have done a couple CTRs which were run thru ECTRA (website). they are a great way to learn things like pacing if you are new to the sport of distance riding.

a lot of people lump any sort of organized trail event under the heading 'competitive trail riding' when they could be talking about CTRs, CTCs, endurance rides, or judged trails rides--so always a good idea to ask someone which specific organization they are talking about!
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post #8 of 11 Old 02-20-2011, 07:25 PM
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I've ridden through ECTRA as well ^^
Competitive trail can be anything from 15 to 100 miles from what I've seen. It's similar to endurance, except you're judged 100% on condition rather than on what "place" you come in. There are time penalties for coming in too early or too late. It's a good way to really learn how to take care of your horse's needs and make sure they are actually in condition for the distance you are trying to achieve. They are fun!

A horse is the projection of peoples' views about themselves--strong, powerful, beautiful--and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existance.
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post #9 of 11 Old 02-22-2011, 02:50 AM
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I did NATRC competitions as a kid and enjoyed them greatly. In my old age of 31 I prefer the CTC rides as they are short, one day rides and I only have to take 1 day off from work to compete instead of 3 days.
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post #10 of 11 Old 03-24-2011, 06:55 PM
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@GypsyHorseDreamer... Great question! Now I want to check it out in my area!
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