First blog!

I’ve decided to add a blog that you can subscribe to if you like – you’ll get an email notification every time I post, which will depend on how much time I get to write but will be no more often than once per fortnight, and hopefully at least once a month.

Posts will include updates on new events that are open for booking, links to photos from previous events, updates on any online video competitions and each one will look in more detail at a TREC topic.

Now it’s over to you – ask me anything about TREC! You can guarantee that you won’t be the only one wanting the answer and I’ll choose a topic for a detailed answer each time.

Events next month with spaces:
7 Apr – Map reading – Wakefield WF1 5SL 10-4, full day’s training with exercises, discussions and practice out walking with a map £25pp book here
28 Apr – TREC GB Judge training for White Horse TREC Group, Wakefield £10pp
Cost refunded in full when you judge for a full day for WHTG. Book here.
29 Apr Arena – Derby College EC 90 min arena obstacles £25 book here 
You can also hire the facilities at Derby College at a great discounted rate if you are attending the TREC clinic, so you can make a day of it: XC schooling field and 5km estate ride will be £15 (usually £15 for XC & £10 for estate ride) – these bookings will be confirmed closer to the date, you just need to book TREC for now.

My winter online TREC series closing date has been extended to 30 April, so if you can’t get to a training event or competition you can still have a go!

If you would like to book a yard visit, I have no availability until one date in August and three in September so do get in touch to get your name down.

The first topic is demystifying your obstacle scores!
The rule book devotes a lot of pages to the finer points of every obstacle, and if you study it you’ll notice common themes.

Effectiveness can only ever be 7, 4, 1 or 0
0 faults = 7, 1 fault = 4, 2 faults = 1, 3 faults = 0 – if you score 0 for effectiveness then no style or gait marks count.

Types of effectiveness fault – the golden rules:
Don’t refuse! The horse is allowed to stop/sidestep and then go, but if the horse steps back (even one step) or has to be re-presented then it is a refusal. This is why it can help to approach slowly then allow your horse to stop and sniff something scary – if you are lucky they won’t step back so it won’t be a refusal. Circling or stepping back on course – wherever you are on course, doing either of these counts as a refusal at the next obstacle so if you have to circle three times between 14 & 15 you will score 0 for obstacle 15, even if you do it perfectly. NB if you are held by a judge you can circle without penalty during hold time.
Don’t touch the obstacle unless you’re meant to! This could be the horse hitting a pole on the ground, your toe/whip touching a bending pole, the horse barging a gate or your head/back hitting a low branch. Obviously you need to touch a gate to open it…
Don’t break pace – this includes changes of gait as well as stopping once you’ve started.
Gait obstacles – you can resume the original gait without it counting as another fault – so trot-canter-trot is one fault, trot-canter-walk is two faults.
Style obstacles – every break counts as a fault, so if your horse starts jogging halfway through, keep jogging!
Walk obstacles – if it’s a walk-only obstacle you will not be penalised for resuming walk. If you complete less than half the obstacle in walk you’ll get zero.
*TOP TIP* watch out for penalty zones (these will be clearly marked on the ground) as well as the usual red and white flags! You need to be in your chosen pace all the way through the obstacle as well as the flags and penalty zones either side.
Don’t step outside the obstacle
– this equates to falling off the imaginary mountain path you’re on, so results in zero for the obstacle. You’re better off stopping in the middle of an obstacle such as the s-bend to re-balance (one fault), rather than losing balance and stepping out (zero score).

Gait – only ever +3, 0 or -2
For ridden gait obstacles, you will receive E +3 for canter, E +0 for trot and E-2 for walk. (At level 4 competitions the course designer may decide to vary it to E+3 for canter, E-2 for trot and zero overall if any walk observed).
In hand, you’ll receive E+3 for trot and E+0 for walk.

Style – this can range from -2 (bad) to +3 (very good) 
You could think of these as the TREC equivalent of the collective scores in dressage – evaluating the overall picture. The common themes here are balance, regularity/fluidity/rhythm, straightness, discreet/appropriate aids, calmness, obedience.
For led obstacles, you should have the horse on a loose rein and should not allow the horse’s muzzle to be any further forward than your shoulder – you want to be ahead and to one side, and aim for there to be at least 30cm of slack rein between your hand and the horse end of the reins so that your arm is relaxed.
Style marks are subjective – a judge who is also an equine professional or very experienced rider may spot errors that someone else would miss. The same judge will be using the same criteria, experience and knowledge for everyone in your class, so it will be consistent.

If you would like to learn more about judging for TREC competitions, you can book onto my 28 April TREC GB Judges course in Wakefield with White Horse TREC Group – a full day looking at how scoring works and all the different jobs judges can do.

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