Competitive trail / Indtroductory Distance Ride

What is a Competitive Trail Ride?

Competitive Trail is a sport where you and your horse become a team, each one relying on the other, traveling distances of 25 miles to 100 miles. You will be competing against other horse and rider teams in areas such as, fitness and horsemanship. This is not a RACE. There is a minimum time for completion and a maximum time for completion which will vary for different mileage amounts. The average pace is 6 miles per hour. You will have the opportunity to ride through miles of beautiful trails and meet many people that share your interests. This sport has proven to be a great bonding experience for horse and rider, and you will come away from each ride with experiences you will not soon forget. Now lets turn to the more serious side of the sport. Judging is done in three categories. Conditioning is based 100% on each horse's physical conditioning on a comparison basis from morning check to evening check. Judging is done with a Veterinarian and Lay Judge. There are also Horsemanship and Trail Horse awards. Training and preparation are needed to be able to compete in any sport, including this one. There are many topics addressed on this ACTRA site. Distance riding can be stressful on horse and rider and this is not to be taken lightly, but don't let this intimidate you. The efforts you take to train and prepare will all be well worth it, when you successfully complete a ride safely with a sound and fit horse. Just remember the Competitive Trial motto: To Complete Is To Win!

What is an Introductory Distance Ride

ACTRA ride managers can host rides with a maximum distance of 20 miles. These rides are designated as Introductory Rides with the intention of offering riders a starting point of entering the sport of distance riding. IDRs are to be ridden at 4 or 5 miles per hour (decided by Ride Management) plus an additional 10 minutes for the halfway check. Competitors may complete the marked trail up to 15 minutes either side of the established ride time, without penalty. Even horses up to maximum time faults are still eligible for mileage provided that they pass the final exam, but are not eligible for placing. The ACTRA Introductory Distance Ride is judged using the same conditioning score sheet as that used on a Competitive Trail Ride.



A Typical Competitive Trail Ride Day

8:00 am

Arrive at ride site. You will be assigned a number, which is put on your horse's rump with a stock marker. The horsemanship judge begins observing.

8:30 am

Present your clean horse in halter for your preliminary vet check. The vet will check your horse's legs, feet, tack areas, mucus membranes, pulse, respiration and dehydration. Be prepared to mention any blemish you feel he may have missed. You only lose points for abrasions, etc. that occur or deteriorate during the ride. You will be asked to trot your horse in hand. The horsemanship judge may also wish to check your horse at this time.

9:00 am

While others are being vetted, you may tack up. Fill a couple of buckets with water to warm to air temperature - one to wash the horse and one for him to drink from after the ride. Place items you will need at the halfway stop on the truck going there( such as a bucket, sponge, horse cooler, lead rope, carrots) After all horses have been vetted, attend the pre-ride briefing. You will be advised of ride time, type of trail markings used and given information on the route.

9:30 am

Make final adjustments to tack - it will be checked by the horsemanship judge. Mount in front of judges. The timer will advise you when to leave, usually at one minute intervals. Leave ride site at a trot. As you ride along watch for spots to water and sponge your horse. You may dismount at any time, but forward progress must be made while mounted. You may be observed at any time by the judges.


At a point near mid-ride there will be a compulsory stop of 20 minutes. Your horse's P & R's will be taken ten minutes after you have arrived. If the horse has not recovered, he will be held for a further 10 minutes, then retested. If the horse doesn't meet parameters on the recheck he will then be eliminated. Horses may be pulled for lameness or other difficulties at any time. You may blanket or sponge your horse. The timer advises you when to leave the halfway hold.


You will be required to manage your ride time. It does take some practice to determine your ride speed so that you arrive within the posted ride time. If you have not managed the time well, elimination will occur if you arrive 30 minutes before optimum ride time or 30 minutes after established ride time. Your day is not over at the finish line. After you have been in 20 minutes, the final P & R checks are taken, you then proceed to the judge to trot out the horse in hand. After another 40 minutes you return to the judge for final vetting. The first 20 minutes should be spent assisting your horse's P & R recoveries. Final grooming can be done in the last 40 minutes. Horses are checked in order of finish.

5:00 pm

After the final horse is vetted, the after ride meal is served while the judges finish their computations. Awards are given. You will receive your score sheets for reference.

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