The two-step at the trail challenge consisted of two steps made from railroad crossties and landscaped into steps. One step was higher than the other. The ground became increasingly muddy as the horses went up and down. The top step came about to the cinch on Jack. He took it in stride!
Jack is shown here with Dustin at the AQHA Trail Challenge held in Hartman, Arkansas and hosted by the Horsemen of Arkansas. The event was also approved by the American Horsemen Challenge Association.
The obstacle in this photograph requires the rider to back a full 360 degrees around a fire pit. There are four stumps placed as corners that the horse cannot go past essentially making you back a circle inside a square.
Jack, just like our other quarter horses has been trained to respond appropriately to new and unexpected situations. He displayed genuine interest in the challenge without ever showing any poor behavior or acting up. Jack is great on the trail and pays attention to everything without forgetting the training he has been given.
Dustin had not ridden in nearly a month due to his job schedule when the challenge took place and had not ridden Jack for several months (bearing in mind Jack had been ridden by others). We felt Dustin and Jack did an exceptional job considering the lack of working together. The initial plan had been for Dustin to ride a different horse, but some confusion over getting the health papers to cross into Arkansas ended up with Jack as a last-minute substitute.
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.
Horsemen of Arkansas have sponsored the AQHA Trail Challenge scheduled June 1, 2013 in Hartman, Arkansas. The Trail Challenge will be governed by the AQHA rules and the rules of the American Horsemen Challenge Association. A family oriented event, the day will begin with a brief benefit for the Special Olympics followed by a walk of the trail immediately before the competition.
It has been reported to us the ride will have several levels of competition from youth through a legacy class for those over 55 years old. Coggins papers for in state horses plus health papers for out-of-state horses are required. It is guaranteed to be a whole lot of fun. If you live in Oklahoma, it may be about the closest AQHA sanctioned competition around. Looking at the schedule for 2013, there doesn’t appear to any in Oklahoma for the remainder of the year.
Horsemen of Arkansas sounds like a down to earth, laid back group of horsemen who know what they like to do and have a good time in the process. If you want more information, go to the web site at the link above.
AQHA has posted a Trail Challenge Schedule for the remainder of 2013 for those interested in having some fun and enjoying some friendly competition with fellow horsemen. There are competitions all across the country so if you want to give one a try, check the schedule for one close to you.
An AQHA Trail Challenge is scheduled June 1st and 2nd, 2013, in Hartman, Arkansas. The challenge is hosted by Horsemen of Arkansas at the J Bar K Ranch. AQHA reports a Trail Challenge “is a new competitive event that asks horses and riders to work as a team, navigating natural obstacles they might experience on the trail. The focus is on horsemanship, and the goal is to promote education, safety and fun.”
Lindsay Whitehead, a trail challenge competitor from Florida, says ‘Just give it a try. Most people are scared of the obstacles at first – they don’t think their horse is going to do it. When I first brought my hunter out here, it took us a while with the groundwork, but in the end, we were crossing the high bridge, climbing up rocks and doing all the obstacles together. There’s so much to do, and it’s stimulating for you and your horse’s mind. It’s a nice break from your normal training schedule, but it’s still really productive’.
For more information, you can contact Meg Wills,(501) 940-2259 or go to the Horsemen of Arkansas website. http://www.horsemenofarkansas.org/
We read a blog post about roping and horses that makes some good points. The authors, Mark Wray and Christine Hamilton, give some young AQHA ropers some good advice. If you want to work on your roping, then slow down and work on your horsemanship and the fundamentals. We don’t pretend to know a lot about roping, but as to horses the advice is first-rate.
The basics for a horse come slowly if you want a good result. The basics also require reinforcement periodically to avoid bad habits developing. Whether roping, trail riding, or dressage, horses like people will start to cut corners if you let them. Occasionally returning to training and doing it slowly helps watch for those areas the horse is starting to get lax.
Wray and Hamilton also remind young ropers that your horse needs a break from time to time. We could not agree more. If you want to see performance out of your horse, you need to provide some variety in your routine and let the horse have some fun. A nice long ride out in the country once in a while will do wonders for your horse’s attitude and renew his mind.
Remember with horses fast starts slow and just like the rest of us; a horse needs a break from the same old routine.
AQHA requires all stallion owners to file a report identifying the mares bred by the horse. The deadline is November 30th. AQHA has made the process simple and allows the owner to file it online. The staff at AQHA is willing to help with any questions by telephone or e-mail. If you like to use paper for your business, you can print the report and mail it. Failure to timely submit the report can result in late fees. Deadline is nearly here. Get to it!
The AQHA trail riding video is part of discoverhorses.com. You can watch the video and hear what first-time trail riders liked about the experience. Just like we say all the time, trail riding is therapeutic. There is a bridge in the video and the horses are shown crossing it the way a well-broke horse should act. Walking quietly and calmly across the bridge to our way of thinking is not just a good idea, it is required for safety.
The American Quarter Horse Journal reports, ” Beginning with the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show in November, the following training equipment, in addition to that listed in the AQHA rulebook, will not be allowed at any AQHA shows:
1. Prohibited training equipment at all AQHA shows include riding in a curb bit without a curb strap, wire or solid metal curb straps no matter how padded; wire cavessons; wire or cable tie-downs; bumper bits; metal bosals, no matter how padded; chambons; headstalls made of metal (even if encased in a protective material); twisted rawhide or rope (3/8-inch rope may be used with a slip (gag) bit with a smooth mouth piece only); running martingales with curb bits; or draw reins attached between or around the front legs.
2. No one is allowed to ride a horse with a curb bit without a properly adjusted, approved curb strap or curb chain.
3. A running martingale may be used with a snaffle bit only.
4. Draw reins may be used on the show grounds as a training device so long as they are attached no lower than the elbow of the horse.
We aren’t show people and don’t really claim to be, but the rules make a whole lot of sense. If you have a well-trained horse, you shouldn’t need a lot of these things. A properly trained horse will present without having to use harsh mechanical gear or unnecessary force. The new rules appear to help level the playing field so good trainers can do their job and not have to compete with those who want to take short cuts rather than spend the time required to do the job right.
The American Quarter Horse Association ” AQHA ” website reports, ” Last week, Congress passed MAP-21, the multi-year national highway bill. The new law reauthorizes the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program and allocates $85 million in annual funding for the program. RTP is important to recreational riders all over the country and the American Horse Council is pleased Congress preserved this program in the highway bill. ”
These trails are used by Americans all over the country and the benefits to the horse industry are significant. Now we don’t like taxes anymore than most folks, but sure rather see it spent on horse trails than some of that stuff they call art. Besides no one can call it ” pork ” when it’s for horses!