Competing on the Trail, Part II: TREC

Check out this small-but-growing competition for trail riders.

Don’t miss Part I of our trail competition mini-series.

Do you want to add a little challenge to your trail ride? Do you want to see how your well-broke trail horse stacks up against his peers? Are you good at reading maps (or want a good challenge to help you improve?) TREC might be your new favorite activity.

Originating in France, where it’s known as Le TREC, TREC stands for Techniques de Rondonee Equestre de Competition. Le TREC was intended to challenge equine trekking guides working in equitourism, but has since grown to be a challenging discipline for trail riders all over the world. With its origins in mind, the three phases of TREC all test skills that should be possessed by a good equi-guide and his or her mount:

  • Orienteering: riders receive a map and can use a compass to help plot the route, including a few mandatory check-ins.
  • Control of paces: horses and riders are tested on a straight track to assess gaits: can the horse travel straight? Emphasis is placed on a good, forward walk and a collected, controlled canter.
  • Obstacle course: part cross-country jumping, part trail course, the obstacles section is designed to test both horse and rider in natural settings with obstacles that could be encountered anywhere.
Riders pore over the maps prior to the orienteering phase. Leslie Ruckstuhl/Flickr/CC

Riders pore over the maps prior to the orienteering phase. Leslie Ruckstuhl/Flickr/CC

Like our previously-profiled CTR, TREC is not an endurance race, though the orienteering section should be completed within a set time limit. In youth classes, parents may ride with children on the orienteering phase as escorts (though they are not allowed to help navigate.) Obstacles in the third segment include everything from drops and banks to gates, water crossings and simulated low branches. Many of the obstacles may also be tested in-hand in addition to mounted. Competitions are often held over two days, with emphasis placed on the horsemanship and social aspects of the event.

The sport is gaining a foothold across Europe as well as in the United States because it attracts recreational trail riders seeking an opportunity to test their skills in a non-show-ring setting. Check out this segment by BBC Sports:

TREC holds international competition, with the World Championship occurring every four years. Six riders traveled to Portugal in 2012 to represent the United States. If you’re interested in learning more about TREC, check out TREC USA’s website.

Go riding!

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