Newcomers welcome for class at Rabbit Valley Competitive Trail Ride

Some 40 competitive horses and riders are expected at the Rabbit Valley Competitive Trail Ride in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area Oct. 12 and 13, but for riders who would like the opportunity to see what competitive trail riding is all about without participating in long, two-day rides, there will be a class for them, as well.

“We have a class called Introduction to Competitive Trail Riding on Sunday,” said Sharon Roper, who is manager of the Rabbit Valley show. Those in the introductory class will gather at the horse corrals on the south side of Interstate 70 about 9 a.m. Sunday and ride a course of about eight miles.

“They will be introduced to obstacles and be judged on the pulse and respiration of their horses, as well as their horsemanship,” Roper said. “They will actually get a score, and they will receive awards.”

Unlike the participants in the event sanctioned by the Noth American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC), they won’t be riding up to 50 miles a day over two days.

But they will learn about the sport of competitive trail riding and what they need to do to compete in sanctioned events.

Competitive trail riding “is a sport that partners horse and rider as a team. Competitors find that the sport is not only fun for the rider, but for most horses, as well,” according to the NATRC website.

The competition is not a race, but horse and rider are required to maintain a specific pace. Horses are judged on their fitness and riders on their horsemanship, both in and out of the saddle.

The conference has six regions covering the country from Alaska to Florida. Each regional group puts on rides in its geographic area.

Roper, who lives in Mesa County, is the president this year of Region 3, which includes Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. The Rabbit Valley competitive trail ride is the last event of the year in Region 3.

“It’s a little smaller than some of the other events,” Roper said. “Because it’s after school starts, we don’t get as many of the junior riders, which is unfortunate.”

Those interested in participating in the Introduction to Competitive Trail Riding class must preregister.

To do so, call Roper at 970-216-9995. The fee is $40 for adults and $35 for juniors. That includes lunch.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management requires weed-free hay for horses being fed in McInnis Canyons. Weed-free hay will be available for purchase at the competition site.


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