'Tour de Horse" a Positive Experience for Horse and Rider
Taking a cue from Mother Nature, who generously offered up a resplendent Saturday morning perfect for riding, the horses participating in the third annual “Tour de Horse” through downtown Aberdeen were also on their best behavior.
Sponsored by TREC-USA, the Tour de Horse is a two-hour introduction to the growing sport of TREC, which was developed 35 years ago in France as a way for trail riders to test their skills through three different phases of riding challenges.
In the first phase, the horse and rider must follow a designated course at predetermined speeds using a map and compass. The second phase involves the rider cantering the horse down a 150-meter-long marked corridor without stepping out or breaking stride. In the final phase, the rider must negotiate 16 obstacles, such as crossing a bridge or jumping a hedge, that are designed to mimic what one might come across on a trail ride.
“We want people to see the world from the back of a horse,” said Mary Harcourt, a retired schoolteacher who has been involved with TREC since 1997. “So many people think, oh, my horse can’t cross railroad tracks or handle traffic. We want to show people if you train your horse to certain situations they become acclimated.”
Harcourt moved to Ashley Heights (in Hoke County) in 2000, and founded the local chapter of TREC (an acronym for “Techniques de Randonnee Equestrian Competition”) in 2001. She is also the president and international representative for the United States Equine Tourism Organization, which oversees all TREC events in the U.S.
The Tour de Horse is structured to be a friendly, low-key introduction to the TREC basics. “What we try to do is get people to do things they hadn’t thought about,” Harcourt said of the Aberdeen ride, which is ranked at level one in difficulty (level four is the most difficult).
The local TREC chapter has 25 riders, all with varying degrees of experience and skill. Harcourt hopes to attract enough riders to the sport to field a U.S. team at the TREC World Championships in Portugal next year.
For more information on TREC, visit their website at www.trec-usa.org.
Contact Stephanie Diaz at MediaPlan88@aol.com.
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