Extreme- / Mountain-Trail
Extreme Trail is a new horse sport brought to Germany by Andrea and Hardy Baumbach in the year 2011.
In this kind of sport horse and rider manage different natural obstacles such as steps, logs, rocks, water and different wood obstacles like bridges, teeter-totter and balance beam. The word “extreme” is a little bit irritating here, because Extreme trail is NOT about a spectacular ride in fast speed just to get over the obstacles. It is about true partnership and finesse in every single movement. We don’t want to see horses that are forced over obstacles or rushing over or through them. The horse should be free to take its head down to notice the obstacle and walk through centered and in a constant gait. We like to see a balanced rider who doesn’t irritate the horse by unnecessary influence through the reins.
For this reason the term Mountain-Trail or Extreme Mountain-Trail is prefered in the United States and Canada.
To be successful in this sport you need your horse as a volunteer and partner to present fine riding.
Before you start riding Extreme- / Mountain-Trail obstacles you always start to work your horse from the ground. The main reason for this is safety: if your horse jumps or rushes through an obstacle or tries to jump over it, it is much safer to teach it first from the ground. Rider and horse get comfortable with the situation and learn to trust and work as a team. Groundwork is the basic for everything: you establish the packing order and are able to use your horse’s natural instincts to solve difficult challenges.
There are also Extreme- / Mountain-Trail competitions in which you ride a specific pattern to compare your abilities to other and just have fun. There are different levels in which different tasks are asked. In the easier levels there won’t be many turns on obstacles or back through, in the higher levels you can expect challenges as a 360° turn on the suspension bridge with backing up the bridge afterwards. So there are many ways to use one obstacle and you won’t get tired to find new ways to manage an obstacle.
In the United States, Mark Bolender is the leading name in Extreme- and Mountain Trail.
He is an amazing horseman and multiple National Grand Champion in Extreme Trail. Beside his spectacular speedruns with his Quarter Horse Checkers he also gives bridleless demonstrations on the obstacles. Mark was the one who designed the first Extreme Trail Park in Germany and gave clinics and lessons. I just can recommend his work with horses, people and in course design.
I am poud, to be his student.