Trail Skills…what the judges are looking for

Stationary Obstacles:
These are such things as slickers, balloons, maps, trash, the Judge’s gear or persons on the trail. A rider is to maintain control of the horse as he acknowledges these obstacles.

Moving Obstacles:
These are such things as backpackers, bicycles, vehicles and carts. A rider is to maintain control of the horse as he acknowledges the obstacles. Safety for the Rider and others is the primary concern.

Hoof check:
Horse will stand quietly. The criterion for this obstacle is a safe leg pick up, not the method of cuing the horse to pick up the leg. If the rider is holding the horse rather than tying him, letting go of the lead rope to ground tie is acceptable; however, if the horse moves they will receive a stiff deduction. Horseman may be asked to pick up all four hooves from one side of the horse.

Drag or pull:
This is an advanced obstacle, Tenderfoot class will not complete. The rider shall hold the rope in the hand as directed by the Judge. No tying hard and fast or dallying the rope is permitted. The Rider should demonstrate awareness by looking at both the drag object and the direction they are going when starting the obstacle. Rider should ensure the horse is not bumped by the object being drug. The horse or rider should never become entangled in the rope. Horse to stand quietly during preparation then pull or drag an object quietly and in control. Wrapping the rope around the rider’s working hand is a safety issue and will be severely penalized. The Rider is to immediately drop the rope if instructed so by the Judge.

Standing tied:
Some obstacles may require riders to tie their horse. Horses will be tied with the halter and lead rope or correctly configured halter-bridle, using a knot that is safe and appropriate for the situation and horse. The knot must be secure and the horse must be tied in a location that is safe for the horse, the rider and any bystanders, other tied horses and their handlers. Horses will stand quietly while tied. Depending on the division you may be asked to ground tie your horse.
NOTE: A quick release knot should be used, the rope should be “locked” before leaving the horse.

Jumping:
Jumps will consist of natural obstacles and will not exceed 12″ in height and depth. The Rider is to maintain control of the horse before and after the jump, following the instructions of a gait transition. Jumping on, into, off of, through, or over any obstacle, unless required to do so, is a major fault.

Stopping:
At a walk a horse should stop with little aid from the rider. Effort will increase slightly for the trot/gait, and again for the canter. The horse should stay collected, stop straight and stand quietly after the stop. A horse should not gape their mouth, throw head, rear or resist the Rider’s cues. Verbal cues are fine and the Rider can use one of two hands to stop the horse. Judges are not looking for a sliding stop.

Orienteering:
A family of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and/or compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain