Monday, June 23, 2008

The Trail Challenge

On Saturday, my dad and I chose to go to the Trail Challenge instead of the rodeo. The rodeo main event was in the evening, when we already had other plans. It would have been nice to go out and support the slack runs during the day, but the trail challenge sounded intriguing and I know I will have a chance to attend rodeos later this summer with my sister and her boyfriend. Who will be more appropriate cowboy hunting company, anyway.

The trail challenge was at a horse and riders club. The property housed a large arena and a nice clubhouse complete with fireplace, kitchen, and restrooms. By the time we got there (ahem- yes, we got lost) they were on a lunch break and frying up some burgers in the clubhouse kitchen. So we had a burger. They announced that after lunch, contestants would be running through the trail course again, but in reverse order and it would be timed.

Horses on the lunch break. The weather was muggy and everyone was mellow.

The course was posted on the clubhouse door so I took a look. It was a fairly typical trail course. When you first came in, you had to start along the rail and go through this hanging curtain of plastic flags. Which is in the background of this picture and looked pretty scary. I'm not sure My Boy would walk through that.

Next, you rode along the outside of the arena rail. I did not get any pictures of this area, sorry. I thought I took more pictures, but I must have been taking them in my head. There was a platform you had to ride onto and do a 360 turn, a gravel/dirt mound to ride up and over, a ditch with water to walk through. Then you had to trot a figure eight between two trees, and ride up to the arena gate, open it, and ride through. Once you were back inside the arena, you had to go over four large tree logs, then cross a teeter-totter platform. Then, you rode through these branches.

Next, you had to go to the poles arranged in an "L" shape and back through them. Oh goodness, this proved to be a challenge for a lot of the riders. Once through, you loped a circle to the left, then stopped at another log, side passed over, and then did a turn on the forehand. Let's see....oh yes, then you took a slicker off of the pole, put it on, rode to the next pole, and took it off. Then, a raised footbridge. And last, the hay feeder. Or whatever it is called, it is the feeder round bales of hay go in. It was tilted on it's side like this:

And the horses either walked, loped (oh Nelly, I kept my fingers crossed that those rider's kept their heads down) or refused to go through at all. The whole time I watched this event, I kept thinking of what a fun challenge it would be to take My Boy through the course and see how he did. This picture make it look like Rosie and I were the only spectators at the event, but there were several sets of bleachers and since we had a dog, we chose the furthest one out.

Hmmm.....whats that under the bleachers?
A very smart dog lying in the cool grass.

Here are some of the competitors waiting for their round. The little black Arab in the front did very well for the two younger girls who competed on him.

This mule was very cool. I liked his color and stocky build. I wanted the long ear to clean up the competition. He did not do that, but, he did pretty well.
I heard the trail challenge organizer telling someone else that he was a bit disappointed in the turnout. They only had around a dozen competitors. My guess is that several of these were members of the horse and riders club, as most of them seemed to know each other fairly well.
There seems to be an increase in these kinds of competitions lately. Also "big" right now is the extreme cowboy race. If you have ever watched Craig Cameron's show on the RFD channel, you know what I mean. But I wonder how a horse's experience at riding through and over obstacles on real trails transfers to the trail obstacles in an arena? You know, I think this trail competition thing could be something I would really enjoy doing on My Boy. Maybe a trail challenge is in our future?


  1. This looks like so much fun to watch or participate in. How interesting it would be to see what my horse would refuse! I am thinking that hay rack would be a definite "no". Great pictures, esp the dog under the bleachers!

  2. Boy that looks like nothing but FUN!

    And of course, being a majorly huge fan of long ears, it was a bummer to read that the mule did not clean up... but it was still AWESOME to see pics of him! He is a good looking mule. Come on Pony Girl, admit it, doncha just want to rub those ears?! ;)

  3. I've been wanting to make my own trail challenge type course in the "way back" in my own yard. This looks like fun and a good way to see how confident and trusting your horse really is.

  4. I've got a feeling that MyBoy would just go right along through that course. It certainly looks like fun.

  5. That looks like a fun time and great to spend some quality time with your dad!

  6. Looks like lots of fun. I have never ever competed on horseback. I wonder how my mare would have done.

    I love the Extreme Cowboy Races. I try to catch them but I am rarely home when it is on. I like Craig Cameron.

  7. That looks like fun! I'd do it too, but I'd be out of place in an English saddle ;-) The only thing I wouldn't be able to do would be the gate. Jack is horrible about standing to do gates. And I don't know what a side pass is, so I'd fail that, too. Haha! It would be fun to see pictures of you and My Boy if you do a competition!

  8. Thanks for including such good descriptions of all the challenges - more things for Lyle and I to aspire to. If I can find a ranch-sitter, I'm planning to go to Craig Cameron's NM ranch in October for a 4-day clinic.

  9. Neat! I'm with everyone else -- looks like a lot of fun, and nice and low key for a hot summer day.

    Visiting friends in Iowa last year we went to a fun show that offered an in-hand trail class. There were a couple of adjustments in speed: no lope/lead changes, etc. but the other obstacles were the same as the regular trail course. The big thing was, you could take your yearling or two-year old halter horses through and let them do something in the arena other than strut and pose. I really liked that idea, too, but haven't seen it locally yet.

  10. Imagine my surprise as I was scrolling down and realized that this appears to be the very same trail challenge that Trailblazer Martha, my sister's good friend, and her horse attended. They did not do very well:( She said that Curly was acting goofy all day. My sister and I were supposed to be there, but we had to do the log show thing instead. There is another one, next month, that Trailblazer Martha and Amber will compete in, but I will be gone on vacation. Was this the trail challenge in MR?

  11. So I went back and looked at the pics that Trailblazer Martha sent me, and it IS the same place! Too funny!! You do have to do alot of extra training for these challenges...Martha spends alot of time practicing jumping, side passing, backing, pivoting, flying lead changes...all while maintaining total control of her horse. It is really hard to do, because these challenges will have you galloping wildly one minute, and then the next, they have you side passing and dragging a log. Meanwhile, you are trying to calm your horse down, and get them focusing on the task at hand. I think that is the whole point behind Craig Cameron's challenges: working as a team with you horse!
    Go Pony Girl and My Boy!

  12. Knutsons: YEP, it appears Martha was there, I remember someone shouting "Good job Martha!" during the competition. Small world, eh? Wouldn't that have been funny if we'd both been there and didn't realize it until now?
    I forgot to mention in my post that I really liked the "low-key" feel to this event. It felt more like a playday or a training course than an intense competition.

  13. I just read your comment over on my blog. Martha's Curly, was the big liver chestnut QH, and Trailblazer Martha has long red hair. I will ask her if I can post some pics from her various trail challenges on my blog.

    What a small world!

  14. That does look challenging and fun. A great way to connect with My Boy and hone your riding skills.

  15. What a great challenge! That course looks amazing. I watch Extreme Cowboy Race all the is cool that people are getting these events good for the horses to find their confidence around these crazy obstacles.

  16. That looks like so much fun!! I don't think they have anything like that here!! I bet I coudln't get any of my horses through all of that. I think it looks like a ton of fun and I wish we had that here!! Your boy would probably be pretty good at that!!

  17. This really looked like it was great fun to see.
    I would love to go to something like this for sure. I will have to check at the feed store to see if there is anything scheduled in this part of the woods.
    I am so glad you got to have such a great time. I bet MyBoy and you would have no problem working toward doing this, he is such a good boy!

  18. Most importantly, such cute boots!! :)

  19. Ooooohhhhh! This was so exciting! Thanks so much for taking photos and give a run down of all the challenges set up. It sounds like such a cool thing to do.

    Does this club keep the obstacle props up longer than just for this contest?

    It would so awesome to take your horse back there to practice and try out those obstacles to prepare for a trail challenge contest.

    And wouldn't somthing like this be really neat to create in an equine park. I wonder if there would be too much insurance risk, though. What a bummer.

    But I do think more people would work with their horses more often if there were trail challenges set up to try. It just looks so fun and not boring like just riding around a bare arena.

    And ya know what? I KNOW My Boy would win first place if he competed!

  20. I'm not sure the club keeps these obstacles set up. I did hear the organizer (?) say it was a lot of work setting it up, as I can imagine! So my guess is it will stay up a while.
    The boots, the boots, oh yea! I am finally starting to break them in and wear them around town. I've been babying them beauties a little too long....I think I will start wearing them while riding my horse (now that most of the mud on the farm has finally dried up! ;)

  21. Um, cute boots!! Looks like a fun competition.


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin