What Is Extreme Mountain Trail?
People often ask, “What’s the difference between Mountain Trail and Extreme Mountain Trail?” In a word, Extreme Mountain Trail is just like Mountain Trail – except on steroids.
The sport of Mountain Trail requires the horse and rider to navigate trail obstacles with confidence and skill. This is in contrast to other equestrian sports like the Extreme Cowboy Race, which is essentially a speed trial where horse and rider must move from obstacle to obstacle as fast as possible. Finesse and precision are not important because scoring depends on swiftness alone.
The sport of Mountain Trail is especially exhilarating because it challenges horse and rider to navigate trail obstacles with technical accuracy, subtlety, and speed. There are graded levels of difficulty, where the most challenging are designed for the most experienced horse and rider.
Extreme Mountain Trail is similar to Mountain Trail but with far more difficult challenges in terms of the obstacles. It also requires a high level of finesse and boldness – and there also is the element of doing it all as quickly as possible. And the obstacles are usually much more challenging than you would experience on an actual trail ride or other horse show. They come at you one after another – and often together!
When various Mountain Trail obstacles are combined during competition, and you’re required to negotiate them quickly, the challenges are elevated to a whole different level. For example, negotiating either a gate, cowboy curtain or pond each is a common (and tough) Mountain Trail obstacle on its own. But when ALL of these are united into a single obstacle that must be navigated quickly, it constitutes one Extreme Mountain Trail obstacle that tasks even the best horse and rider.
A primary focus of both Mountain Trail and Extreme Mountain Trail is not only to properly negotiate the obstacles in a timely manner, but to execute them with finesse; something that only a true partnership between horse and rider can accomplish. Lack of subtlety is obvious to anybody watching. When horse and rider disconnect it seems like the rider is forcing the horse to perform the task of negotiating obstacles.
Finesse is gained by a partnership where mutual trust has developed. When this occurs, horse and rider appear as one single living being, an image few feats of man and beast can rival. It’s like a virtuoso violin performance, where the boundary between the human and the instrument becomes blurred and beautiful music results. So are the horse and rider who mutually trust their instincts, and together, negotiate seemingly impossible obstacles with the unmistakable beauty and delicacy of a trusted partnership.