Caernarfon Riding Club

What is Trec?

TREC COMPETITIONS- a brief description


The competition consists of 3 parts, The orienteering phase, The control of paces, and the PTV or obstacles phase. There are also 4 levels (level 1 being the easiest) riders may compete as individuals or in pairs classes.

The POR is the 'orienteering on horseback' phase. This might sound scary, but at levels 1 and 2 the navigation is very basic and most people are pleasantly surprised. The route will be between 12 and 20 kms (7.5-12.5 miles) in length, designed to be completed mostly in walk and trot..

The CG/CP (control of gaits/paces) is a simple test of how slowly your horse can canter and how quickly it can walk, without breaking into trot from either pace. It is measured through a corridor of up to 150m in length, and between 2 and 2.20m in width.

The PTV is a course of optional obstacles, these obstacles are meant to pose similar problems to those you may encounter out on a hack, so they include things like gates, low branches, crossing a ditch etc. Some obstacles are very straightforward, such as rein back between two poles, mounting your horse or leading through a trailer for instance. Other obstacles may need more practice so the horse knows what’s expected! The “S” bend or immobility must seem a little odd to them at first!

There can be up to 16 obstacles in a competition, and these can be on a course over a kilometre in length. The PTV course aims to test the horse-rider partnership, not to scare them! The refreshing thing about the course is that you are allowed to miss out any obstacle you don’t want to do (so long as you tell the obstacle judge) You will not be eliminated, you just won’t gain any marks for that particular obstacle. All obstacles are marked out of 10, 7 marks for “effectiveness“ and 3 marks for “style”. There is an optimum time for completing the course.

Some of the possible obstacles are listed below, we will be arranging two training sessions during May/June to practice them before our summer competition. (keep an eye on the events calendar)

  • Ditch ridden/ led
  • Gate
  • Canter corridor
  • S bend ridden/ led
  • Footbridge ridden/ led
  • Bending poles
  • Rein back
  • Low branches ridden/ led
  • Immobility
  • Mounting off / near side
  • Trailer
  • Step(drop) up/ down
  • Lead up/ down an incline
  • Ride up/ down an incline
  • Jump
  • Steps up/down

A full list of obstacles and all trec rules are available in the TREC RULE BOOK from the BHS bookshop.

As you can see, some obstacles are ridden whilst others are led. The training days will aim to give you tips as to how each obstacle should be tackled. You don’t need an arena or expensive equipment to practice these obstacles. Many of you have already had a go at the club’s indoor trec activities, it’s even more fun outdoors!


The second trec training session was held in June, in glorious sunshine, at Rhiwlas. The aim of this session was to introduce the "scary" obstacles, THE FOOTBRIDGE, LOW BRANCHES, and MAYPOLE. The participants then went on a map reading activity, to test their skills (and eyesight) All the horses and riders sucessfully tackled the obstacles, after a gentle introduction. Everyone also returned safely from the wilds of Rhiwlas, finding their way back with the aid of their maps.


With this obstacle, judges are looking for a horse to WALK confidently over the bridge. Penalties for stopping (before, and on the bridge) they must not trot, must not step off the bridge to the side. When training, it is a good idea to have "sides" to the bridge to keep them focused on walking in the middle. A lead horse is invaluable, for a more nervous horse to follow. This obstacle can also be included as a "led" obstacle (always remember to make your stirrups safe when dismounted, and reins over the horse's head) To increase the difficulty, once they are happy to cross, remove one, then both the "sides", also you can put some fabric underneath (looking like water flowing underneath) or put some "odd" things such as a sign /flag/ gnomes! on one side on the ground.



This is a real horse and rider scarer!!! The "branches" should be 20 cms higher than the horse's withers........that's not much room for the rider! If you're going to construct something for training , the branches MUST fall easily, and they MUST be light so that they don't frighten the horse. Here are some training tips; First of all, ride the horse through the obstacle WITHOUT any branches up. Then ride through, again without branches, but with the rider in the "flat as possible" position (the horse will think this is quite odd enough the first time, and a few times more) the branches should be HIGH up, so that the rider won't knock them. You can introduce doing the branches in trot, and even in canter (with the branches high up, and you & the horse in the right position) It is much easier to train on this obstacle if you have a helper on the ground, as the branches can slowly, slowly be brought down to the correct position without the horse noticing (a bit like a reversed jumping lesson) As with many trec obstacles, canter gains highest marks, walk the lowest changing gait.

The first photo shows the junior session , where 2 of the children are being a lead "pony", they are crouching down, which may look strange, but observers will have seen the pony copying them as the branch went lower! It is ESSENTIAL that you allow enough room between the person on the ground, and the horse, and that you trust the horse not to rush through if they get worried. Only use a lead horse or lead person for the initial stage, when the branch is high up. This obstacle needs to be introduced very carefully, and slowly, especially with a nervous horse. It is advisable to keep the branches high for the first few times, so that they do not become frightened should they be knocked down. It is also advisable to have a very SMALL breakfast on the day. Does your bum look big in this obstacle?....well, generally, yes it does.


This is a new obstacle, consisting of 2 upright poles 5m apart, with a 6m rope suspended from the central pole. A circle is marked around the central pole (5m radius) Very simply, the rider picks up the end of the rope from the outside pole, then travels around the circle to deposit it back on the pole after completing the circle. You can choose to go clockwise or anticlockwise. you must not drop the rope, or step inside the circle. Canter earns full marks, walk least, but as always with trec obstacles, you must stay in your chosen gait the whole way around. The horses at the training session fell into 2 clear groups....laid back types who were happy to amble around...and the ones who beleived it was an electric fence & didn't want to go near it!!


Anita Long