Le TREC is a three-phase event that tests the obedience and training of the horse, along with the riding skill, knowledge and trail sense of the rider. During each phase, different skills will be tested. Le TREC has its roots in France as a way to test equestrian trail guides. It is now a sport that is rapidly gaining popularity and combines elements of competitive trail riding, trail classes, equitation and competitive mounted orienteering.
Phase One: Parcours d'Orientation et de Régularité
Phase one is mounted orienteering, known as POR. Riders follow a trail that they've plotted on their own maps from information provided by the organizers. The horses must be checked for fatigue or injury by veterinarians at pre-determined spots, and riders must check in at other unmanned checkpoints. The rider must wear and carry certain items such as helmets, high visibility clothing, hoof care items, first-aid kit, halter and lead rope and of course, map and compass. Depending on the level of competition, this phase of the competition may be from 12 km (7 miles) to 45 km (28 miles). Points can be lost for things like going off course, missing checkpoints or even losing your POR record card.
Phase Two: Maîtrise des Allures or Control of Paces
The CoP phase looks simple enough, but it's actually far more challenging as my daughter discovered when her Pony Club attended a le TREC competition set up for them.
A 150 m (165 yds) by about 2 meters (2 yds) lane is marked on the ground. The rider must gallop up the lane at a slow controlled pace, and walk the horse smartly back to the start line. Points are lost for going breaking gait or going off course.
Phase Three: Parcours en Terrain Varie
PTV is an obstacle course of up to sixteen obstacles or tests of skills.
All must be completed within a specified time frame. There may be jumps over natural or man-made obstacles, skill tests like mounting and dismounting or trailer loading, or bridges, stairs, gates and low hanging branches. You may opt to go around an obstacle but will receive 0 points for it. Each obstacle is worth ten points, and points are deducted for things like going too fast, sloppy riding or a misbehaving horse.
The goal of Le TREC is to develop a safe, well-trained trail horse that can deal with anything it encounters while out on the trail, whether alone or in a group. The rider too will learn skills that will make trail riding easier, safer and more enjoyable.
Equipment You'll Need
Check the rules for a full list of gear you and your horse need to wear, and what you'll need to carry. I've listed a few above and all are things that a trail rider, who may be far from home could need to stay safe and comfortable.
Preparing Your Horse
Your horse will have to be well schooled and trail safe. Learning about the different obstacles you may encounter can help you replicate them at home, and practice before the competition. Your horse will have to be brought into condition, so they don't become too fatigued during the longer sections of the phases.
You'll want to be fit enough to ride the longer phases, so you'll need to put miles on your horse to help you become fitter. You'll need to know a bit about orienteering, even if just on foot. Because you can ride the orienteering phase with another rider, it may help to find someone who can help you learn along the way.
The Benefits of Hunting
Preparing for le TREC will result in a more obedient, safe and fit horse. Ultimately, le TREC develops well-rounded trail horses and confident, skilled trail riders.