Riding a horse on a trail has always been one big obstacle course. The California State Horsemen’s Association has taken this fact one step further and now has a fully recognized sanctioned program where riders are judged on their skills and abilities to guide their horses through a natural obstacle course. This type of course riding is known as “Trail Trials”. Sanctioned CSHA Trail Trials are produced throughout the year all over California by equestrian clubs, individuals and the CSHA Regional area programs.
A “TT” consists of a ride with approximately 10-12 judged natural obstacles that appear along a trail of several miles in parks or private property. This is not an arena event!
The program is open to all breeds from Icelandic ponies to Warmbloods, as well as all riding disciplines. The rides consist of obstacles and situations people might encounter on a trail ride. A course is designed using the natural obstacles that already exist on a particular trail such as walking over logs, opening a gate, or maneuvering through a creek. In riding you may also encounter obstacles such as birthday parties, family BBQ’s, volleyball games and mountain bikes…these are considered “natural” obstacles as well.
This is not a timed event, but casual in nature. Riders may be given a time limit to ride through a particular obstacle so that riders behind them don’t get held back. Riders may ride as individuals or groups…so family participation is encouraged as family or friends may ride together.
Helmet use is recommended and encouraged. Any type saddle and any type of bridle are required. Riders are also required to have a halter or halter-bridle, lead rope, knife and hoof pick with them at all times on the ride.
Riders are judged individually and strictly on how well they negotiated their horse through an obstacle with an emphasis on calmness and safety. Points are given based on this criteria. Several regions have their own High Point Program with an annual awards ceremony where year-end awards are given. You can contact the Chairman of your region State Committee Members and Region Contacts to obtain the rules and requirements for your particular region. To locate the CSHA Region where you reside, click here . Those members completing three sanctioned Trail Trials are eligible to participate in the State Championship Event (under the State Rules) regardless of their placing in their individual Region.
Trail Trials are about trail riding and that means common sense, staying on the appropriate trails (all trails are clearly marked), the ability to move safely down the trail, and, of course, have fun doing it.