My mare, Stiletto, just turned 5 this year and right now my goal is to get her willing and confident. For me, that means trail rides, and challenging her with some new things. Nearby the barn where I am boarding Stiletto at, there is another barn that has an extreme trail ride obstacle course. What is extreme trail riding, you ask? Great question! Extreme Trailing Riding is an obstacle course is set up with different challenges that can be deemed easy or difficult. Bridges with water, giant teeter totters, small narrow step-up walk throughs, hills to climb up or down, rocks to strategically walk through, and large branches to navigate through are just some of the things that you and your horse might encounter.

We first went to the course to spend a couple hours to practice, and it was amazing what Stiletto was willing to do! First, we walked through the course by hand. She easily followed me climbing up and down hills, stepping up on to a small box, and walking through a walk through that when she steps on it, shoots up water from underneath. I was impressed with her bravery. She even willing went on the teeter totter, where when she stepped up, the other side of it lifted up, and she had to walk on it as her weight pulled it back down. She made it look like a piece of cake!

The next step was to saddle up and try out each obstacle. She breezed through most, but the most challenging obstacle was a narrow “bridge” that she had to step up on and walk very strategically, with one foot in front of the other. There was also another longer one, where it was the same concept, but she had to turn at a 45 degree angle while walking through. She was willing, but it took her awhile to finally get it down! You could tell she was trying so hard to figure it out, and after many gentle attempts and encouragement, she finally got it!

We ended up checking out the show that they had a couple of weeks later to see if Stiletto remembered her new skills. The show was set up with different classes to choose from, and each class had their own “course”. Like a trail class, you had to remember your pattern, and know when to walk, trot, or canter through the course.

There is a judge that determines your performance based off of the 1) entrance, 2) body, and 3) exit of each course. The judge is looking to see how your horse ventures through each obstacle, how willing he/she is, and how “clean” each obstacle looks. For example, if the obstacle is walking through some logs, you may get a point or two knocked off if your horse nicks a log while crossing through. The judge is also looking at how you and your horse work as a team, too! When Stiletto and I completed the course, each obstacle she did willingly and with ease. The course is right next to a forest, so there was a point when completing the challenge that she thought that something scary might be lurking in the woods, but other than that, she did great! I was super impressed with how much fun I had, but how much fun Stiletto had, too! I could tell that she really enjoyed it, and it was a great way to boost her confidence, and a wonderful way to work as a team together. I can’t wait to try it out again, and try some more challenging obstacles!