Saturday, 24 September 2011

Our own TREC "Truc"

Having been to a couple of TREC competitions here in SW France and had a lot of fun, some friends and I decided to organise our own, nothing official, just to give our friends an idea of what it’s all about.

So what is it all about? Invented in France in the 70s, le TREC ('Technique de Randonnée Equestre de Competition') was designed to test how good a horse and rider are at going anywhere and doing anything. There are 3 elements to a competition, the POR (Parcours d’Orientation) which is basically orienteering on horseback, the Control of Paces, which involves cantering as slowly as possible over 150m, the slower you go, the more marks you get, if you drop into trot then you get no points, then walking as fast as possible back over the same distance, this time the faster you go, the more points you get. This bit is incredibly difficult, particularly as in France at least the 150m is not in a straight line and it’s a marked corridor 2 metres  wide, and if a hoof goes out of line, it’s no points again. The final element is the PTV (Parcours en Terrain Varié) or obstacle course. This involves 12 or 16 obstacles depending on the level you compete at, some ridden, some in hand, such as walking over a bridge or through water, under low branches, jumping a log, opening and closing a gate, mounting from the off side, in short, things you might encounter when out and about.

I can organise that, I thought, how hard can it be?

So after weeks of trudging round a 12km route for the orienteering checking that all the paths were passable, organising food, people to man checkpoints, printing maps, getting the obstacle course together and sorting out somewhere to put all the horses, we were ready to go.

All last week, it was warm and sunny. Saturday, the day of the TREC, it rained. Luckily I’d thought to laminate the maps, I had predrawn them to make things easier, in a proper competition you have to copy the map from a master copy before you set off on the ride. We had four teams, the first one went out at about 9.30. After they’d gone I realised that my checkpoint people were standing around drinking tea instead of getting out on the course so I had to chase them out sharpish.......

Then team two left 15 minutes later, one of them was on my horse, I didn’t realise at first that the dog had gone with them........I sent out the final two teams at 15 minute intervals, then set off in the car after the dog. Tracked the dog down, Team two were doing well, so I went back to base but never got there as on the way I found Team 4 going up the busy main road having misread the map. I escorted them back to the proper route before an impatient French driver could wipe them out, and decided it’d be a good idea to check where the rest of the teams were. Team 1 was steaming ahead and already at checkpoint 2, Teams 2 & 3 arrived together at the first checkpoint and stopped for coffee & biscuits, then I got a call from Team 4 who were lost again.

I went to find them and got them back on track, then had to go in search of Team 2 who had somehow managed to miss checkpoint 2 completely much to the consternation of the people manning it, but they managed to find checkpoint 3. By this time Team 1 had finished the ride, but there was no sign of Team 4 again. So I went to find them again and pointed out the route through the vines. I drove round the rest of the ride making sure the others were on track, then went back for Team 4 again who had gone the wrong way and ended up in a village 3km off the marked route. Teams 2 & 3 finished the ride, we waited for Team 4. Everyone else untacked the horses and went for an excellent lunch cooked by our hosts and all cheered when Team 4 eventually arrived back!

After lunch it was time for the PTV. It was raining again. The competitors had to start off on foot and negotiate a maze of poles on the floor, then mount from the off side with the horse preferably not moving out of the circle marked on the floor. There was a wooden bridge to cross, a couple of the horses were not happy with that, a log and brush jump to go over, a slope to ride up, a slalom and low branch (well, string of flags in this case), another circle marked on the floor for the horse to stand still in for 10 seconds (quite a few of them didn’t manage that) and a corridor of poles to ride through. Some of the obstacles like the corridor and the slalom get more points the faster you go, so there were horses and ponies bombing about all over the place.......

After that we did the COP, and it was very difficult, I think only a couple of people got any marks at all for that phase!

I totted up all the marks and dished out the rosettes and prizes, then we put the horses away and all retired for a drink and a barbecue.  It was a lot of fun but I don’t think I’ll be organizing more than one a year!!

1 comment:

Di said...

It looks like you did a fantastic job Helen, well done you!!

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