Tayo and I were very fortunate to be able to participate recently in an introduction to the newest equestrian sport in Australia, Mountain Trail.
What is Mountain Trail you say? Mountain Trail is a course set up with various obstacles that are as natural looking as possible that horses may encounter out on a trail ride. Obstacles may include gates, bridges, water, navigating around rocks and ditches, walking through flags and hanging ropes to simulate trees and branches, hills and ramps just to name a few. This is a wonderful safe way to introduce horses to obstacles they may encounter out on the trails. It is also a fun way to build trust and handling skills between horse and rider. Even if you are a serious competitor in another discipline, Mountain Trail is a great way to break up the monotony of constant arena work.
Mountain Trail was created in 2001 at the Oregon Horse Centre in America. Since 2001, Mountain Trail courses have been set up in countries such as France, Canada, Germany, Italy as well as here in Australia. In Australia, Virginia Donovan and Julianne Denham have built a Mountain Trail course that conforms to international standards on a property in Ourimbah, NSW. The Ourimbah Creek Mountain Trail course is one of the few courses in Australia and the first to be built in New South Wales. This is the course Tayo and I visited.
Unlike many disciplines, every breed of equine can participate in Mountain Trail. It is suitable for all riders from Olympic competitors to those who are just starting out with their first horse, from youth riders to adults of all ages. You can ride in almost any type of equipment from any type of discipline from English to Western and all those in between. You can show in hand or in saddle too. I was very excited about the in hand classes as Tayo is currently retired and cannot be ridden on the mountain trails in the state parks or be shown in conventional breed classes like we used to do as he is not sound enough anymore. The Mountain Trail course is suitable to his level of fitness and is a great way to keep his mind and body active without straining him. He was very excited to get out of boring retirement mode and have a play.
No matter what level or age or type of horse you have, I can recommend Mountain Trail for you and your horse. For more information on this exciting sport visit the official website here.
You can join the public Facebook group for the Ourimbah Creek Mountain Trail in NSW here.