How to prepare for Trail class at the Fair?

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How to prepare for Trail class at the Fair?

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    12-12-2009, 05:23 PM
Smile How to prepare for Trail class at the Fair?

I think I want to get into Trail, Western Pleasure, and maybe Halter and/or Showmanship classes at the fair. Definitely Trail class. I have a 21-year old Gaited Paso Fino gelding, and we've ridden Western together my whole life. He's 14.1-14.2hh, so on the border between a pony and a horse. Has a horse temperament. What classes do you think we should enter at the fair? How can I prepare for Trail class? I don't have a round pen, but I have lots of open fields and lush pastures to ride in. And we own lots of trails in the woods behind my house.
My one friend did Trail class at the fair once, and she said they spray your horse with a hose, make you walk over poles on the ground, go over wooden bridges, around cones, walk over a tarp, open a mailbox, walk through water, and open a gait.
To prepare, I have a jump frame with about 7 poles. I don't want Arthur to jump too high as he's 21 years old and has never jumped, but I could use the thicker poles as ground poles to walk over. I have tarps that Arthur (my horse) can walk over, hoses he's pretty good with but I'll spray him with them when good weather sets in again just to make sure, a few of those garden arches I can walk him under just to get him accustomed to strange objects, logs to jump over on the trails, dry ravines to jump and/or cross (he usually tries to jump these, and I always have to hold him back and make him walk across them lol), etc.
He was accustomed to the show atmosphere when my mom rode him in egg&spoon races, pole bending, dollar races, etc at a show about 15 years ago. (he won almost all of the events!) I don't have any ponds/lakes/rivers/shallow pools of water to ride him through, however. Our neighbors have a pond they'd be more than willing to let us try, but it has chemicals in it. What should I do about the water thing? And I don't have cones. Any ideas/suggestions to help us prepare? Greatly apprciated! Thanks=)
P.S-I'm 5.6, and Arthur is 14.1-14.2. The judge at the fair wouldn't consider me too big for him, would he?

Here's pics of the jump with rails (ignore the dog and miniature horse LOL):

Here's a few pics of Arthur and I:

^^Haha I look rily weird because I wasnt smiling. Yes, I know his bit looked too big there. I adjusted it since then
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    12-12-2009, 06:34 PM
Put the polls in the L shape and back it. Do some side passing over the polls. Go to you tube and watch the classes!!
    12-12-2009, 08:41 PM
Originally Posted by luvmyqh    
put the polls in the L shape and back it. Do some side passing over the polls. Go to you tube and watch the classes!!
I've been watching classes on Youtube all day lol. What do you mean by side passing? And backing the poles?
    12-12-2009, 10:08 PM
Google trail class patterns!!

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Attached Images
File Type: jpg trail3.jpg (8.3 KB, 807 views)
File Type: gif lbackupdiagram300.gif (8.8 KB, 503 views)
    12-12-2009, 10:53 PM
Oh, okay. Thanks. And with the opening the you have to get through it a certain way, or can you just get through the gate any way that you can?
    12-12-2009, 11:11 PM
Trail classes are fun! I always do them. Don't worry too much about jumping, I've never done, seen or heard a class with a jumping obstacle. But I do live in Australia, so I don't know if you have jumps obstacles in your trail classes.

If you've never opened a gate before, practice! It takes a while to get used to opening them from horseback. Gates in trail classes can vary. Some can be rope gates, or metal full gates.
I find rope gates are probably the hardest although they look simple. Most trail class patterns should say how to go through the gate, just do what it says.

Every trail class has a bridge (I think). Make sure your horse is familiar with them. Also, put plants, ribbons, bright colours around a bridge at home. I went to Nationals and they had all of these brightly coloured flowers around the bridge and a lot of horses spooked at them.

Most trail classes will have a back through or an L thing. Set up an L shape of poles and back through them and side pass them. Then set up a square, stand in it and make your horse turn 360 without knocking any of the poles or stepping out.

Practice jogging poles, walking poles and jogging in and out of cones. Make sure you've got your transitions nice and smooth. Trail classes are all about how obedient, responsive and alert they are. Trail classes don't expect you to do them fast. Its all about how you and your horse negiotate the obstacles, and how responsive and alert he is. If he wants to sniff the bridge when you approach it, let him! It shows he is interested. But don't let him sniff it forever make him walk on.

If you're horse has never encountered an obstacle, try and introduce it to him on the ground. And if you get stuck on an obstacle, try and if you can't do it, look at the judge and nod or give a gesture. Most judges will nod at you and you can just move onto the next obstacle.

I'll try and find some good trail class videos that you can watch.

Follow the pattern, smile and don't rush it. You will do fine.
    12-12-2009, 11:45 PM
Thank you! How would I practice with the rope gates? I have only tube gates at home
    12-12-2009, 11:58 PM
Like in the pic put a rope across the top of your jumps!! And no there is no jumping here eather!! Just like troting over polls.

I just got first in my trail class the show was in november I had to do the open the mail box take out the bag and put it back in and then go over the bridge and trot over 4 polls and back the L and then raven had to kick a ball and then take a jacket and put it from one barrel to another then trot though polls like you do in the speed class poll bending!! I won I was so proud lol
Attached Images
File Type: jpg trail-poles.jpg (40.0 KB, 523 views)
File Type: jpg trail class 007.JPG (66.9 KB, 535 views)
File Type: jpg trail class 006.JPG (65.8 KB, 505 views)
File Type: jpg trail class 015.JPG (67.4 KB, 509 views)
    12-13-2009, 12:37 AM
I will try and explain the best I can on how I go through gates. Sorry if it turns out a bit confused.

Walk up right next to it, or side pass right next to it. Put your reins in your right hand, lean over and pick up the rope off the hook with your left hand. Use your left leg to move his butt over, keep a hold of the rope and walk through. Use your right leg again to move his butt over once you're through and put the rope back on the hook. Remember to keep your reins in one hand whilst performing the gate.

Sorry if I've explained that wrong or confusingly . Just practice. I'm fairly sure I've explained it right. I've also seen some trail patterns that say you must back through the gate, instead of walking through, so I'd practice walking through, and backing through.
    12-13-2009, 07:40 AM
We don't compete, but we practice trail class patterns with our trail mares. As you can see from the patterns and videos, there is a lot of leg/hind end work and that is the place to practice the most from my experience. It's easy to practice that anywhere, even without setting up the 'L'. We practice using the rows in our neighbor's gardens making sure we don't step on their veggies.
It's a lot of fun and teaches patience, too.

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