Maryland Competitions: Trail Riding Competitions

take on many forms, themes and distances. From Easter Egg hunts to Halloween Trick- or-Treating, these chases are fun for individu- als or groups. Typically, various colored ribbons tied to tree branches, fence posts, etc mark the course with the object being to count the most number of ribbons, eggs, treats… whatever is marking the course, within the time limit. In addition, some Paper Chases will also have a secret optimum time to complete the course. Paper Chases are very popular here in Mary- land and are ranked second in our poll of trail sports.

Kristen Marie at a Trail Challenge hosted by Thurmont Riding Club

Hunter Pace Similar to a Paper Chase, riders at Hunter

Paces follow a marked course, however, there is no counting involved. Te goal is to finish the course closest to the secret optimum time. Based on the sport of foxhunting, Hunter

Pace speeds are similar to a “hunt pace,” mean- ing the pace you would typically maintain while foxhunting. Tus, many Hunter Pace competitions will offer several courses at one event, to accommodate those who may want to travel a little slower and those keen to race around over large jumps. Te Maryland Hunter Pace Circuit offers

Teams navigating through the woods with a map and compass during a Competitive Mounted Orienteering competition.

both a spring and fall series that is open to all riders, not just foxhunters! Tis series, along with others offered by groups like the Waredaca Pony Club, are very popular here in Maryland making Hunter Paces the top pick in our poll of trail sports.

Ride & Tie For a Ride & Tie event, each team consists

Working Equitation competitions combine trail skills with dressage and ranch work!

of two runners and one horse. Rides can be set at distances of 20 to 100 miles with one per- son starting the race on horseback while the other is on foot. Te Ride & Tie Association organizes these races throughout the country as well as holding educational events. Here in Maryland, Foxcatcher held a Ride & Tie dur- ing its annual Endurance ride in April. In this sport, the rider on horseback naturally travels faster than the teammate on foot. Af-

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ter a previously arranged time or distance has passed, that rider will get off the horse, tie it to a tree (or hitching post) and continue on foot, running. Te teammate, who started out run- ning on foot, will catch up to where the horse is tied, untie it, get on, and continue down the marked trail on horseback. When the team member now on the horse,

catches up with the runner, the rider can ei- ther get off and hand the horse to the runner or continue on riding to the next tie area. Tis team sport really challenges the people to take advantage of each member’s strengths and weaknesses as they “leap frog” back and forth between running and riding. Horses are presented for a veterinary check at the start of the race, and at least once during the race. Within one hour of finishing, horses must be re-presented to the veterinary team for one final check before the team’s time can be made official.

Equathon Similar to a Ride & Tie, Equathon involves

two people and one horse. In this case, the rider never gets off the horse and the person on the ground is the only runner. In Equathon, the rider completes the first loop on horseback. Ten, when the horse’s pulse reaches the pre- set criteria at the mandatory veterinary check, typically 64-68 beats per minute, the person on foot runs the second lap. Te distance for the rider and the runner

may be the same or different, depending on the course. Most courses will be different, with the rider traveling 10-15 miles on horseback and the runner going 5-15 miles on foot. Competitors can even compete solo as an

“Iron Team” where the sole human rides the first loop on horseback, jumps off, allows the horse to reach the pulse criteria, and then runs the second loop on foot.

Mountain Trail Challenge Mountain Trail Challenges are a more ex-

treme version of a Trails Obstacle Course continued...

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