Submitted by Martha Nicholas, Team Easyboot 2012 Member

I went up to the ACTHA (American Competitive Trail Horse Association) ride that was hosted by the Northwest Horseback Search and Rescue, held up in Arlington, Washington, at the end of September. I had the pleasure of competing in their first ride last March and was looking forward to this one. Their rides are different then the other ACTHA rides since they have a theme and worked on sharing information about who they are and what they do. This ride was bigger and better, and improved on from their first ride last March, which impressed me. This was held at the Pilchuck Tree Farm, a very popular riding area up north. It was my first time up there and I was excited to finally get to ride there.

The slicker obstacle.

The day of the ride had perfect Pacific NW fall weather and everyone could feel the excitement in the air. At the riders briefing we were all given our packets with the obstacles list, map, and gifts from NWHSAR. The host, Anna, did a great job sharing with the group of 60 riders all the information needed, including trail conditions, what each obstacle was, hinted  to pay attention to the NWHSAR clues along the trail and at the obstacles since there would to be questions about them at the awards and then prizes for the right answers.

The obstacles were also themed based, super fun and different. They nevertheless followed the rules of ACTHA, but with a twist. As you will read, each obstacle even had it own SAR theme.

They were:

  • Looking for the lost person using urban search techniques
  • A bridge cross with a crime scene
  • The barrel board pin wheel was with a human litter with a huge stuffed bear that needed help
  • Natural curtain with first aid station
  • Wagon Wheel with a tarp was the 48 hour camp site
  • Backing obstacle – training requirements
  • Slicker was 48 hour pack display

It is always a surprise when I ride up on a obstacle and see it for the first time. I have to quickly form a plan on how best to do the obstacle for the highest point, what are the key things in each one, what is the best way to present it to my horse, etc. These are the things competitors are judged on.

The wagon wheel obstacle.

It was a very good day and I am happy to say I did not win the Open Division. I have had the pleasure of watching the winner develop his partnership with his horse and witness his horsemanship grow by leaps and bounds. He won it with an almost perfect ride with 137 out of 140 points. I was so happy for him! I also liked how they ran their awards with the questions about Search and Rescue: anyone with the right answer got a prize, not just the top riders. It was so much fun for me to support NWHSAR.

The Pinwheel obstacle.

It is a great group of folks who put on a fun and unusual ride – one that I will always look forward to riding in the future. The event generated roughly $1,400 for them. It is always great to know how much was made when supporting a benefit ride. I had the pleasure of riding with my friends Boonie Davis and Lynda Allan. I would also like to thank Lynda for taking these super cool pictures of Curly , knowing they would be used for the EasyCare blog.

The trails were nice but I still put Curly’s Gloves on him. To help a friend be able to attend this ride, we put a pair of Curly’s old Grips over her horse’s sliders hind shoes. She came up and thanked me after the ride and shared how she would not have been able to do the ride without them on the slick slider shoes . The boots worked well for her and she has since ordered a pair of the new Epics. Now she knows she can have the fun of doing reining patterns and still be able to enjoy a trail ride or a ACTHA ride for that matter.

Martha Nicholas