Competitive trail riding for the weekend warrior and steed

A horse-eye view of an obstacle at the ACTHA competitive trail ride at Glade Park.

As a fan of trail riding, Maggie Cason became interested in the American Competitive Trail Horse Association events — rides of six to eight miles with six obstacles, ridden at a leisurely pace.

“I think it’s awesome,” she said of ACTHA and its format. “And I live on Glade Park and have a place that’s just a perfect fit” for such an event.

As a result, the Lazy J Flying M Ranch on Glade Park will be host to three ACTHA events this summer — June 14-15, July 12-13 and Aug. 16-17 — the only ACTHA-sanctioned events scheduled in Colorado so far this year.

Competitive trail riding has been around for a long time. The North American Trail Riding Conference, or NATRC, has been around for decades and affiliates in western Colorado regularly sponsor events in this area. But NATRC events typically involve 15-to-24 mile rides each day of a weekend competition for novice riders, and 25-35 miles per day for upper classes. 

Many people who enjoy trail riding don’t have the time to prepare their horses for that type of competition, Cason said. “They are more comfortable for them and their horse” with the ACTHA format and mileage.

Cason, a former college instructor and now an elementary school teacher, only began riding horses about 10 years ago, when she was 50 and was living in Durango.

“I met a rancher who threw me on a horse, and I fell in love with riding and that horse,” she said. She began riding as much as she could and eventually got into competitive trail riding with that same horse.

She sponsored her first ACTHA event at the ranch where she lives on Glade Park last summer. This year, the ranch will host the three events, with trail riding clinics each weekend and a buckle series for ACTHA members. But riders don’t have to be members to participate in the events, she added.

In addition to the trail rides and clinics each weekend will feature catered meals, cowboy poetry and country music. There is plenty of parking for horse trailers and campers.

“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s just a weekend party. And people really support each other” during the competition.

To participate, riders must register online at They can also learn more about the organization an its events there.

For more information about the Glade Park events, call Maggie Cason at 640-2839 or email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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