Competitive Trail Riding
Competitive Trail Ride (CTR)
While Endurance rides in all area of Canada and the United States are sanctioned by the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC), competitive trail is most often sanctioned and governed by there various national and provincial organizations such as OCTRA.
A competitive trail ride is shorter than an endurance ride, they are usually 25 to 40 miles and multi-day rides can amount to over a 100 miles in 3 days. Competitive trail is more strategic in some ways compared to Endurance – you must ride within a minimum and maximum time – It is the best conditioned horse ‘fit to continue’ that wins not necessarily the fastest.
There are variances in the judging guidelines among the different organizations but the general principles remain the same. The horses are asked to travel at a speed of approximately 6-8 miles an hour were some endurance horse will cover up to 15 miles an hour. The speed may be altered by the head veterinarian at any time due to difficult terrain or weather conditions. The welfare of the horse is the number one thing in this sport! Riders MUST complete within the limits or they will be disqualified or eliminated. Most organizations require that the horse be 48 months to compete at a competitive level of over 25 miles.
Veterinarians check these athletes before, during and after the competition. Prior to the start of each ride, all horse must pass a veterinarian exam (vet check). The results are recorded on a vet card which is present at each of the various vet checks through out the ride. After the ride the vet exam is looking for any soreness, metabolic deterioration or change of attitude that may have developed through the ride. Unlike endurance points are deducted for high pulse, soreness, swelling, any irritations that may have been caused by the riders equipment and trail liaisons. The winner of a competitive ride is the horse that completed the course in the allot time in the best condition as determined by the total point score following the post-ride exam.
Because of the strenuous nature of the sport and the competitors emphasis on horse welfare, drugs of any kind are prohibited in all horses participating in any event. In CTR even things like bell boots, splint boots, bandages or anything that is considered protective with the exception of easy boots. Points would be deducted for interference marks. Shoes are optional.
Along the trail, natural water or supplied water stops are allowed for the horses to get a drink and sponge the horse off if it is hot.
A novice division is also run with a longer time or shorter trail allowing the novice to learn without the pressure of competing against seasoned competitors. Novices do not have weight divisions, and are not required to weigh in. Participants take great pride in successfully completing a ride regardless if they were "in the ribbons" or not.