- Founded in 1961, the North American Trail Ride Conference now sanctions roughly 70 rides every year.
- Both horsemanship and veterinary judges observe each ride; their combined scores determine final standings.
- Horse-and-rider teams accumulate points and mileage toward national awards in three divisions-open, novice, and competitive/pleasure. The latter category is designed to give experienced riders a class in which to work their green horses without competing against the inexperienced riders in the novice division or the seasoned open teams.
- Although rides are timed, the first horse-and-rider teams to cross the finish line aren't necessarily the winners.
- Ride management determines a pace appropriate to the course, considering weather, terrain, and footing on the trail. The pace for a novice, 20-mile ride, for example, might be 4 miles per hour. The window of opportunity to finish without score deduction in that case would be between 7 hours and 45 minutes and 8 hours and 15 minutes.
- Teams finishing either faster or slower would be penalized or disqualified.
- Excluded from this time are lunch breaks and pulse-and-respiration checkpoints.
For more information on NATRC, contact: Laurie Dinatale, NATRC Executive Administrator, P.O. Box 2136-HR, Ranchos de Taos, NM 87557-2136; (505) 751-4198; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org; North American Trail Ride Conference
Honi Roberts, who is a contributing editor for Horse & Rider magazine, currently shares her life with two Arabian mares. The Washington state resident and lifelong trail rider is inspired by the talent and camaraderie she finds on the NATRC trail.
This article first appeared in the March 2000 issue of Horse & Rider magazine.