It takes momentum to get over an obstacle.
One thing Fran Duncan, a longtime Clark County Saddle Club member and organizer, notices among inexperienced equestrians is a lack of that momentum.
“They don’t realize the horse needs the impulsion,” Duncan said.
Duncan once again brought her obstacles to form a trail riding course at the saddle club on Saturday, June 3. It was the first year the event was hosted at the new location for the club, which offered more room than the club’s prior location.
The course featured numerous obstacles one might encounter while riding a horse along a trail. Much of the obstacles involved simulations of ground-level hazards like poles that were spaced out to give a path an uneven and not quite level terrain, for example.
“Horses need to learn to trot or canter over things like that and they don’t like it,” Duncan said. “If you’re out on a trail and you can’t move the rails or branches or something, the horse needs to know it’s OK to go over them.”
Although the new location does have a herd of deer that make an appearance at night, Duncan said, for the trail course, a facsimile was employed to give horses a beast to encounter. A real alpaca was anticipated for the course, but a scheduling conflict necessitated the use of a stuffed version in its place.
Of the numerous objects that disturb horses, Duncan mentioned mailboxes are some of the most strange to the animal.
“Horses don’t like mailboxes. It’s really weird to get them to accept you opening and closing the mailbox,” Duncan said.
Small wooden bridges and an L-shaped pathway were among trials for the equines who prepared for a real trail.
“They’re supposed to trot over the middle, and the horses don’t like that, so they do their best to jump away from that,” Duncan said about one of the obstacles.
Duncan attended her first horse show in 1946, she said.
“The first show after the war,” Duncan said.
She got involved with horse shows after she spent time in Miami, where she saw trail courses occur alongside competitions, she said.
“It was mainly jumping, but the all-around shows had trail courses,” Duncan said about the Miami horse scene in the 1950s.
The current property for the saddle club opened up around the start of this year. The new 40-acre space is about three times the size of the old one.
“Oh, it’s beautiful,” Duncan said about the new location.
Although game shows drive the largest crowds for the club, Duncan noted a good foundation in riding like what was experienced at the trail course is important to allow both the rider and the horse a chance to enjoy their time in the great outdoors.
“A lot of horses are learning. So are the riders,” Duncan said.