How many times have you heard the words, "just a trail horse?" Fortunately, that low-horse-on-the-totem-pole image of the trail horse is on its way out and emerging in its place is that of a skilled and dependable partner, which, for most riders, is an ideal worth pursuing. Organizations such as the American Competitive Trail Horse Association have created ways to measure and document the development of trail horses. This gives structure to what in the past has been a largely unstructured leisure sport for horse owners. The unorganized, haphazard approach to trail riding is still perfectly legitimate and will appeal to some riders, but for those who want a bit more challenge, a bit more socializing with like-minded people, and a plan for adding tangible value to their horses, groups such as ACTHA may be the answer.
I rode in an ACTHA-sanctioned “Competitive Trail Challenge” recently with my mare, Candy. You can see the result on this week’s TV show. With virtually no preparation we aced two of the six trail obstacles on the six-mile course. I was stunned at how much better some of the other horse and rider teams were with these obstacles. Far from discouraging me, it gave me some new things to work on with my “trail horse.” Yes, ACTHA is a sponsor of my TV and radio shows but that only buys them commercials, not the personal opinion I express in my blogs. Bottom line, give it a try. See you on the trail!