|Riders leave the start for the January 1st ACTHA CTC|
at Magna Vista Farm
(Photo courtesy of Kay Fleenor)
As a regular jump judge for cross-country at various USEA horse trials, I felt I was fairly experienced enough to be an ACTHA obstacle judge, and I really enjoyed learning about the obstacle I was assigned to, as well as the requirements and judging criteria of this question. I judged an "injured animal rescue" obstacle, which consisted of a stuffed sheep, a mounting block, and a barrel. The riders had to stop at me, I explained the exercise and what they were allowed/not allowed to do, and then the rider would proceed to cross through the start cones, halt at the mounting block, dismount on the ground (there were certain criteria that deemed the dismount acceptable from 0-10 points), pick up the "injured" sheep, mount from the mounting block (there were grading criteria for the mount, as well), walk to the barrel, then set the "injured" animal on the barrel and pass through the finish cones....in under 60 seconds. It sounds fairly easy, but as the stillness and obedience of the horse is gauged, as well as the technique of the mounting/dismounting rider, it gets kind of picky. I was pretty generous, though, as this ride was the first that Lorie and Kay have hosted and the riders were out having fun (not competing for a championship or anything). It also made me wonder how well Eddie and I would do, since the horse is not allowed to move at all during the mount, and Eddie is typically squirrelly when I mount, which would seriously affect our score for something like this!
I was later explaining this ACTHA ride to one of my eventer friends (who had never heard of this before, either) and we were talking about how much fun this would be for eventers in the off season. For those of us who can't train/clinic, fox hunt, or do hunter paces a lot over the winter months, this sounds like a great way to have fun and also get in some hacking/conditioning as well. Riders and horses go out in pairs, so it's also a great opportunity to grab a friend and go for an enjoyable ride.
Even though the January ride in Bristol was cold and rainy, there were 10 entries and everyone had a really good time. It was good experience for some local riders, it was great for Lorie and Kay to get started as venue hosts, and they got the chance to see what worked/didn't work in preparation for another ride they will hold in April. I enjoyed judging an obstacle, as I got to see all the riders and how they negotiated my question, but I would like to ride next time and see how Eddie and I do. Maybe Kelly Wallace and Stryder would like to come along with us and we could have a "chat-and-hack" and get a little conditioning in, as well. Sounds like a good time, to me!