Young riders tackle Mountain Trail challenge

Riders and horses had to work together to navigate their way through a series of natural obstacles

The Hanging H Arena in Ryder Lake hosted the first Mountain Trail Youth Day June 16.

“Mountain Trail is more than just trail riding”’ instructor Debbie Hughes explained. “It’s learning how to work with your horse as you navigate through natural obstacles. These can be log or trestle bridges, water crossings, rock paths, tunnels, or climbing up and down a hillside.

Nearly 30 students competed with their equine partners in four difference categories and levels of difficulty.

Riders as young as seven spent the morning learning about Mountain Trail and safety on the course before venturing out with their horses.

“You learn how to trust your mount as they come to trust you,” Hughes said. “It’s an experience that helps increase your confidence as a rider on the trail or in the arena.”

Lori Owens judged the event.

“I was impressed with the kids’ horsemanship and their patience and kindness with their horses,” she said. “I heard lots of ‘that’s a girl, you can do this’ and ‘good boy!’

“The enthusiasm and those big smiles were the best part of the day. The kids were cheering for and encouraging each other. I saw one child run over to another after her turn and say, ‘You did awesome! You are a rock star,’ and gave her a big hug.”

Tamiko Charlton, owner of Cheam Stables in Rosedale, had 15 students participating, sharing seven different horses and ponies.

“We have been practicing in anticipation of this clinic and competition for months,” she said. “The kids and horses have worked so hard. This day has been monumental in developing confidence in their equestrian abilities, relationships, communication and so many other areas of life.

“Some of the most anxious kids before the event are now talking about going to the official competition.”

The B.C. Mountain Trail Competition is this Saturday and Sunday in Ryder Lake.

For more information about Mountain Trail visit dhughesquarterhorses.com or B.C. Mountain Trail on Facebook.

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