I did a few trial trials this summer with the arab mare that decided the ring was not her thing. Although there were a lot of QH type trail horses there, i rode with a friend with an OTTB. Mind you, the OTTB has seen much scarier things at the track than the obstacles in the woods, but he is by no means a dead head and was great as was my mare. Few people are very serious about the trials... they are mostly fun and you get to meet a lot of new people... Some obstacles we had were:
1) walk over a small raised bridge
2) open/walk through/close a gate... either a rope one or a normal gate
3) drag a tree branch
4) carry a traffic cone from one place to another
5) walk through a cut up tarp hanging down from some trees
6) walk through a short course of pool noodles sticking out from some barrels
7) toss an apple into a bucket on a table with flapping things
Not sure if this is different from 'sanctioned' trail trials, but these were ones that I went to and they were a blast! Go and have fun!
To me, alot of people lump the different types of trail events under a "trail trial" designation - such as competive trail riding, trail trials and obstacle trail courses in an arena or field-type setting. What each are and entail can be very different depending on the organization putting them on.
Competitive trail rides to me are what NATRC puts on, which are sort of like training limited endurance rides (LONGER trails at various speed with vet checks the horse has to pass) with obstacles put in there to complete. I've worked as a vet scribe on a number of these and the obstacles are more "natural" than some of the other rides (no balloons, flapping table cloths, etc.), although it's been quite a few years since I've worked one so maybe they've changed. I'd love to give these a go with my mare!
Trail trials to me are what ETI and ACTHA puts on -the 6-8 mile trail ride with obstalces in them, typically done at a walk (although they don't have to be). My 1/2 Arab and I have gone on about 4 of these and have placed in 3 of them. I hated the rules about checking the cinch (although we did it) and the looking thing. As with others above, I WANT my horse to look at things (she typically knows about things around us WAY before I do - like deer & coyotes, etc.) and knew I'd get dinged for it (and did), but I didn't care. My horse is willing and forward and did all the obstacles. She would just look at some of them. They don't care what breed it is, they don't want them to look AT ALL.
I rode with a nice group of people one time that I went alone. One lady had a FANTASTIC Blue Roan QH, steady and quiet. He was getting top marks on every obstacle until we had to ride by mules tied to a trailer. He had never seen a mule and cocked his head to take a look as he plodded on by. He didn't stop and he didn't take a hard look at it, just glanced on his way by. Yea, she got about 3 points knocked off for that. It was ridiculous. But then quite a few of the rules were ridiculous.
The arena trail competitions (like cowboy races by EXCA and AHCA) are not really "trail trails" to me. We've done those as well and have had a blast with them. My horse and I have placed in the top 10 in a few, but then fizzle out to 7th or so due to rider error under pressure.
So I presume that the OP is doing an ETI trail trial. What ever she is doing, English is fine, but you still need to follow all the rules like checking your cinch. And don't forget to have someone in your group take pix to share with us!
Thanks for all the responses. The original plan was to go to a clinic this weekend and a competition the following month. The clinic got cancelled so we will be starting off with a competition.
This is the organization that is putting it on
I did a few trail obstacle courses on my TWH. He would consistently score lower than equally 'broke' QHs or quiet-types of horses- why? because he's more than luke warm in his movements and he is eared up and looking. Not Looky. He would approach and navigate obstacles with confidence and accuracy and consistently score a 6-7 out of 10 but a quiet-looking QH would score a 8-9. If you blow through it fast and sloppy but don't tear it up- there's your horse, judge. Since I actually ride him on truly tricky stuff I refuse to train the sense and look out of him and teach him to be fast and careless. They can keep their ribbons.
My "alert" TWH does get marked down sometimes too. She's actually a champ on these things and "hunts the trail" as well as any QH, but she always looks more up, especially between obstacles....
We did the trail trial. OTTB girl was pretty good though she did not like the teeter totter bridge that was 12+ feet long and 1 foot off the ground on the high side or the big black bag of cans that we were supposed to carry from point A to 30+ ft away point B. But she was good overall and we had fun. Then the following week she got 5th place in her one day event. What a star!
It sure was a good time. So I would be willing to do it again. I love anything that involves horse camping and I met a lot of really nice people. I think variety can be the spice of life for both humans and horses.