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.
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.
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!!