Try Something New this Summer!

I'm can't be the only one who gets a little bored of the usual showjumping and dressage competitions that are about the moment (I never get bored of showing though!). I'm always up for trying new sports with horses and since I'm a tad too old for vaulting I starting becoming more and more interested in TREC.

TREC which stands for Techniuque de Randonnee Equestre de Competition, is an international sport that originated in France. It was started up in 1997 and Ireland sent it's first team to the European TREC Championships in 2006! It is one of the only competitions that adults and children can compete together and even better there is no height restriction on horses or ponies! 

It is a competitive sport where little to no jumping is involved, and you get to spend hours trekking around the countryside with your horse while still having a bit of fun - perfect for those riders who can't or don't like jumping but get bored of dressage arenas! Another big advantage of TREC is that no obstacle is compulsory  and is unique that if you choose to avoid an obstacle you will not be eliminated! You also don't need expensive gear or clothes to compete, just some high-viz and comfy clothes for horse and rider!

TREC consists of levels 1-4 and each level has 3 phases - orienteering, control of paces and the PTV (Parcours en Terrain Varie / Course in varied ground) obstacle course. 

Orienteering is primarily a rider challenge. It is spread over 10 to 45 km depending on the level of competition.  Riders read and copy a map from a master copy and are given a speed at which to ride. There are checkpoints along the way (unknown to the rider beforehand) and horses are given 5 - 10 minute breaks and a new speed is designated to the rider. Depending on the level, it may also test the horse along the way using obstacles such as crossing a ditch or wooden bridge.

Control of Paces is the second stage. Riders must walk and canter along a 150 metre long corridor. The aim is to not break the pace and to walk as fast as possible and then to canter as slow as possible. It's much harder then it sounds! 

PTV consists of 16 obstacles and you are given a maximum time in which to complete them. This section can take place in an arena, field or wooded area and can be up to 3km long! There are 32 approved obstacles to choose from at the moment but at lower levels of competition they may add some additional obstacles. These test the bond and obedience between horse and rider as well the horses flatwork.

I know it doesn't sound like the most exciting of sports (not a scratch on cross country or eventing!) but appeals to me as I love a good day out and it gives the horses some variety too. I just keep picturing myself down the country somewhere with the sun blazing and me trotting along the roads on my new horse :)

I'm really looking forward to trying it out - it sure beats another day just doing flatwork in the arena! 

For more information please visit TREC Ireland's website :)

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