Trail Challenge Obstacles

These are some of the obstacles you can look forward to at the next AQHA-sanctioned Trail Challenge.

The Trail Challenge course is at the discretion of the Trail Challenge Ride Coordinator, AQHA Recreational Advisor and/or AQHA management. Obstacles should be constructed of safe material, consider safety of the various levels of partnerships and test horse and rider skills.

Suggested Obstacles:

Obstacle 1: The Gate

Requires mounted rider to open and close a gate. Credit can be given for positioning of Horse, opening gate and closing gate. More value can be earned by keeping hand on gate at all times.

Obstacle 2: The Junk yard

Requires rider to instruct Horse to step over a series of marked logs on the “road” while ducking under branches. Credits can be given for each log stepped over. Additional values can be given for staying on the “road” and Horse lifting feet or feet position to clear logs.

Obstacle 3: Cache Your Food

Requires rider to ride Horse up to a tarp lying on the ground, take rope from the judge, walk Horse away to lift tarp off the ground, and walk back to gently lower tarp back to ground. Extra credit can be given for facing tarp while lifting and for lifting tarp at least 3 inches.

Obstacle 4: Move the Slicker

Requires mounted rider to enter grove of trees, pick up slicker in left hand, carry slicker around trees, and into a “chute”. Rider then backs up and around trees and hangs slicker on new tree using right hand. Credit is given for touching, lifting, carrying slicker in hand or across saddle, backing, and hanging it back up. Additional credit may be given for backing around trees into position and pulling slicker over Horse to hang with right hand.

Obstacle 5: Take a Shower

Requires rider to ride Horse across two painted lines and calmly walk through shredded shower curtain strung between two trees. A value is given for stepping over each line, three values for calm walk-through, two values for bolting through or one value for dismounting and leading through.

Obstacle 6: The Mail Dragon

Requires mounted rider to pick up saddlebag hanging on a dead tree, carry the bag to the mailbox, extract a piece of paper and place a new paper in the bag, and return bag to branch. Extra value can be given for laying the saddlebag over saddle.

Obstacle 7: The Lemonade Stand

Requires rider to dismount, lead Horse to a table for a drink, a type of snack and return to Horse to remount. Credits are based on dismount, leading the Horse to the table and remounting. Additional difficulty to this obstacle could include: having to dismount and mount on off side, using a mounting block, or the Horse’s reaction to being tied to a post while rider is at table.

Obstacle guidelines:

Leading: Horse is to follow willingly, not lagging or crowding. Horse must be led by a lead rope or unclipped reins.
Mounting: Rider must always check cinch before mounting; stirrup does not need to be laid over the saddle. Horse is to stand quietly and not move out when mounted. A smooth mount does not unbalance the Horse.

Dismounting: Horse is to stand quietly and not move off. Style of dismount by the rider is a smooth dismount that does not unbalance the Horse. Reins should remain in hand.

Hoof Check: Horse is to stand quietly. There is a penalty if the rider lets go of the reins or lead rope unless the Horse is tied to a stationary object.

Water Crossing: The Horse should walk through the water quietly in a continued forward movement. The Horse shall not be penalized for stopping for a drink or checking out the water before crossing.

Uphill: Rider should be positioned appropriately to maintain the center of balance. Rider and Horse are to negotiate slope in safe manner. No penalty is given for holding on the mane.

Downhill: Rider should be positioned appropriately to maintain center of balance. Rider and Horse are to negotiate slope in a safe manner. Rider may use a hand to support himself on the mane or saddle.

Stepover: Horse may hesitate and check out obstacle before proceeding over without striking the obstacle. Smaller Horses are not penalized for hopping over very tall obstacles as long as the action is done in a calm manner. If a rider declares to the judge that it is safer for them to jump the obstacle, no penalty will be given. However, when choosing to jump, it needs to be done in a safe manner for both Horse and rider.

Bridge: The Horse should step up, walk across, and step off quietly. No penalty is given for hesitating to acknowledge the obstacle.

Gate: Depending upon the type and position of gate, rider will decide whether gate should be a push/pull or left/right hand gate.

Drag: Rider may hold rope or dally once. There is to be no tying hard and fast. At no time should the rider or Horse get tangled in the rope. Horse should stand quietly during preparation and then pull or drag in control.

Stationary Obstacles: These are such things as slickers, balloons, map, trash, etc. Horse may acknowledge obstacle, and rider is to maintain control.