This is a photograph of Speck during the competitive trail challenge in Hartman, Arkansas. Speck competed in the AQHA and the ACHA challenges with the attitude we hoped to see. Although he was uneasy with the arena during the thunder-storm and many of the strange contraptions such as the mechanical calf moving back and forth, he never displayed any inappropriate behavior. He remained calm, quiet, and pretty much willing.
Each new obstacle had a 30 second time limit for the horse to approach, investigate, and overcome. As soon as you finish one obstacle, you immediately go to the next one. Your horse is seeing 10 -12 new and unusual situations in a row. Many horses refuse some of the obstacles as did Speck. But overall we were satisfied with his demeanor and glad to see his training at work.
Speck ended in third place in the novice division and took home a cap, t-shirt, and a training log book. I guess he’s a bit put out over the fact the t-shirt won’t fit him and I wear the cap. Oh well, maybe next time they will have horse size t-shirts.
The other obstacles shown in the photograph include the large rock on concrete blocks the horses were expected to climb and go over. It was a little slippery from all the rain and mud, but became increasingly slick after several horses had gone over. The giant spool was the next obstacle and the rider was required to dismount on the spool and then remount before continuing to the tunnel (not shown here). The tunnel was exactly what you would expect, a tunnel made from black plastic the horse was supposed to walk through while the wind was blowing.
If you haven’t gone to a competitive challenge, it is really a lot of fun if you have a quiet horse. You can learn a lot from watching other riders and working with your horse in a new environment. The Horsemen of Arkansas were great and made it a spectacular time. The tips, support, and willingness to help you and your horse succeed made it relaxing and enjoyable. The day was about every horse and rider doing their best with the combined help of all the participants. We highly recommend it.