Ain't nuthin like ridin' a fine horse in a new country - Augustus McCrae – Lonesome Dove

Saturday, April 27, 2013

ACTHA Competitive Trail Ride

Washington State Horse Park
This event drew us for several reasons.  It was our first visit to the park & we were going as members of our local Saddle-Up group - so we'd be socializing & enjoying an evening pot-luck.  I was interested in the ride itself, my first with the ACTHA.  Since one of my favorite Endurance Ride Managers - Gail, was managing this ride, I knew it would be fun regardless.

The park is really going to be an amazing facility when complete.  It already has the bare bones that give you the feel for what the final outcome will be.  The arena's are amazing - huge!  The cross-country course is beautiful, nicely laid-out over the rolling forested hillside & with good lines-of-sight for the jumps we saw.  The Bolander Extreme Trail Course looks challenging, it's in a gully area which helped with the lay-out of the obstacles.  For a rider who likes miles & miles of trail though - it's disappointing.   From what I rode & understand in talking with others who have memberships, it's mostly limited to six-miles, without looping back.  Maybe in the future there will be the possibility of connecting to other trail systems that may be in the area.
Route of the ride~
We pulled in early Fri. afternoon, it was warm, sunny & beautiful.  The RV hook-up sites were wooded, semi-private & landscaped by mother nature with blooming wildflowers!  Stalls are required if you overnight.  They were decent sized, safe & clean.  After getting our camp squared away - Lynn, Jennifer & I headed out for a ride.  Both of them had visited the park before & everything they'd said about these trails was true!  Perfect footing, beautiful pine forest & a couple nice views.
That evening we sat out around a portable gas fire "pit" & enjoyed an incredible pot luck dinner.  Later - the stars were blazing across the sky.  The drawback - is the noise from I-90.  It was roaring like a raging river, ebbing & flowing most of the night.  This is one place where I think a sound wall would be appropriate?  Ear plugs if we stay again...
Our Saddle-Up group!
Sat. morning was another incredible day with a nice breeze & clouds blowing across a blue, blue sky.  The ride meeting was well attended, with pretty much any & all questions answered.  Equipment/tack allowed was a big topic.  There were plenty of handouts, rules, description of each obstacle & map of the course.
Jennifer on Idaho, Connie on Farah
I think there were somewhere around 60 riders, I didn't want to spend time trying to keep Farah calm if a large group was ahead of us coming into an obstacle.  Instead - I asked Jennifer if I could ride with her, since her ride plan was to get out early & complete the course in a timely fashion.  It had been years since the two of us had been out together & we really had fun - both wishing there were more miles to do!
Our return with only one obstacle remaining.
The obstacles were well laid-out & pretty easy to negotiate - good form is important in this sport, not just getting through in one piece :-)  We ran into Gail - who told us to slow down, which we were happy to do!  We returned with only the rope "gate" between us & a finish.

Jennifer went first, Farah did not want to be left behind... so Gail kept us company while we waited our turn.  Butch didn't get the first part of us unhooking the gate & going through - so the video above starts as I was deciding how to latch it!    Once Farah figured out that Idaho was waiting for her - she paid attention to what I was asking her to do!  Big thank you to Jennifer for having that handy treat as a reward :-)

After watching some of our friends finish, Butch & I went back over to the gate to see how some of the more experienced riders did it.  We were really impressed with the caliber of horses, riders & the training that goes into doing this sport!  There were long hold-ups at obstacles though - which did away with any forward momentum on the trail...   I think the first requirement in way of training - would be to have a horse that can calmly wait!

From the little I have learned - the ACTHA differs from the Competitive Trail that we did in the early 90's.   Those rides were 25-miles in length with the judges out on the course at natural obstacles (Sometimes they hid in the trees!) & a five-mile pace required to complete in time.  This is shorter in distance, some of the obstacles placed & more finesse required for top scores.  Tack & clothing too can count toward your final score. There are five divisions at which you can compete, I rode as a "Scout", the beginning level.  Another interesting horse sport!

Garmin Stats~


  1. I am so envious! What fun! Sounds like you and Farrah had a great time and she looks fantastic.

    1. Thanks :-) Was fun - both Farah & I were looking for more trail!


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