Southeast Stock Horse

Ranch Trail

Stock Horse Trail Class

The trail class, as the name implies, tests the horse’s ability to cope with many situations encountered in everyday riding. The horse is ridden through a pattern of obstacles which should nearly approximate those found during the course of everyday work. The horse is judged on the cleanliness, neatness and promptness with which the obstacles are negotiated, ability to negotiate obstacles correctly and attitude and mannerisms exhibited by the horse while negotiating the course. Emphasis on judging should be on identifying the wellbroke, responsive, well-mannered horse which can correctly negotiate the course. Management, when setting courses, should keep in mind that the idea is not to trap a horse, or eliminate it by making an obstacle too difficult. All courses and obstacles are to be constructed with safety in mind so as to eliminate any accidents.

A. Course will include no less than six and no more than nine obstacles.
It is mandatory that the horse be asked to walk, trot and lope during the course. Walk – can be part of obstacle score and scored with approaching obstacle. Trot – at least 35 ft and scored with approaching obstacle. Lope – at least 50 ft and scored with approaching obstacle and be lead specific.
B. Care must be exercised to avoid setting up of any obstacles that may be hazardous to the horse or rider.
Since exhibitors in ASHA shows may be riding up and completing their trail course individually, there will not be a time that all exhibitors can hear or know about extra instructions or credits that the judge might want to use. Any instructions to the exhibitors must be written on the trail pattern and posted before the beginning of the trail  competition.
D. Show committees have the option of setting up the trail course to best fit their arena conditions. An outdoor course is recommended if appropriate terrain is available. Each single performance event can be time-consuming, especially with large classes, so it is imperative that time restrictions are placed on this class. The show committee, either through a pilot run or estimation, shall select a course that has a continuous positive flow that can be negotiated in a reasonable amount of time. (4 minutes or less).
E. Judges must walk the course and have the right and duty to alter the course if it is not in keeping with the intent of the ASHA trail class. Judges may remove or change any obstacle they deems unsafe, nonnegotiable, or unnecessarily difficult. If any time a trail obstacle becomes unsafe during a class, it shall be repaired or removed from the course. If it cannot be repaired and some horses have completed the course, the score for that obstacle shall be deducted from all previous works for that class.
F. The actual trail course cannot be made available to exhibitors or posted prior to the day of competition, but must be posted at least one hour prior to competition. Printed handouts for contestants is helpful and encouraged
G. The course may be walked on foot by the exhibitor or , in the case of outdoor courses, be observed from the outside of the course on horseback, but no horse/rider exhibitors are allowed on the actual course after it has been set until their trail run begins.


A. Course must be designed using the mandatory obstacles and maneuvers plus optional obstacles. Combining of two or more of any obstacles is acceptable.
B. Prohibited obstacles: Tarps, water obstacles with slick bottoms, PVC pipe used as a jump or walk over, tires, rocking or moving bridges, logs or poles elevated in a manner that permits such to roll in a dangerous manner. Animals (live or stuffed) should only be used which would normally be encountered in an outdoor setting and which are not used in an attempt to “spook” a horse.
C. Mandatory obstacles or maneuvers:
1. Ride over obstacles on the ground – usually logs or poles. It is recommended that all three gaits (walk,trot,lope) be used, however only two gaits are required.
a. Walk- Overs – Walk over no more than five logs or poles. The space between logs for walkovers should be 20 – 24” apart and no more than 10“high. These can also be in a straight line, curved, zigzagged or raised.
b. Trot – Overs – Trot over no more than five logs or poles. The space between trot-overs
should be 36-42”. Poles may be elevated a maximum of 10”. These can also be in a straight line, curved, zigzagged or raised.
c. Lope-Overs – Lope over no more than five poles. The space between lope-overs should be 6’ to 7’. Poles may be elevated a maximum of 10 “. These can also be in a straight line,
curved, zigzagged or raised.
2. Opening, passing through, and closing gate. A gate should be used that will not endanger horse or rider and requires minimum side passing.
3. Ride over wooden bridge. (Suggested minimum width shall be 36” wide and at least six feet long). Bridge should be sturdy, safe and negotiated at a walk only. Heavy plywood lying flat on the ground is an acceptable simulation of a bridge.
4. Backing obstacles – Backing obstacles are to be spaced a minimum of 28” spacing. If elevated, 30” spacing is required. Back through and around at least three markers. Back through L, V, U, straight or similar shaped course. May be elevated no more than 24”.
5. Side pass obstacle – Any object which is safe and of any length may be used to demonstrate responsiveness of the horse to leg signals. Raised side pass obstacles should not exceed 12 “.
6. Rope drag – For Open, Non-Pro, LTD Non Pro and Green Horse Classes ONLY. A rope drag is not to be used in Novice or Youth classes. Drag must be a complete figure eight and may begin either direction.
D. Optional obstacles: New obstacles may be added at any time, we welcome any new and different tests which members may come up with provided they can be found in everyday ranch work. Following is a list of optional obstacles from which selections can be made, but not limited to:
1) Jump – An obstacle whose center height is not less than 14” high or more than 24” high. Holding the saddle horn is permissible for this obstacle,
2) Carry object from one part of the arena to another,
3) Remove and replace materials from mailbox,
4) Trot through cones – spacing to be minimum of 6’,
5) Cross Natural ditches or up embankments,
6) Swing rope – throw rope at dummy steer head.
7) Step in and out of obstacle,
8 ) Put on slicker or coat,
9) Stand to mount with mounting block,
10) Walk over water obstacle,
11) Open gate on foot,
12) Pick-up feet,
13) Walk through brush,
14) Ground Tie, or
15) Lead at the trot

Scoring Stock Horse Trail
The rider has the option of eliminating any obstacle and taking a score of “0” for the missed obstacle. A judge may ask a horse to pass on an obstacle after three refusals or for safety concerns.
Trail Credits:
+ Credit is give to horses negotiating the obstacles with style and some degree of speed, providing correctness is not sacrificed.
+ Horse should receive credit for showing attentiveness to obstacles and capability of picking their own way through the course when the obstacles warrant it, and willingly responding to the rider’s cues on more difficult obstacles.
+ Quality of movement and cadence should be considered part of the maneuver score for the obstacle.
Trail Deductions:
– Artificial appearance and/or unnecessary delay while approaching or going through obstacles.
– Each tick of an obstacle
– Break of gait at walk or jog
– Placing both front or hind feet in a single-strided slot or space
– Skipping over or failing to step into a required space
– Split pole in lope-over
– Stepping on a log, pole, cone or obstacle
– Wrong lead or breaking gait at lope
– Stepping outside the confines of; falling off or out of an obstacle such as a back thru, bridge, side pass, box, or water box
– Refusals, balk, or attempting to evade an obstacle by shying or backing
– Blatant disobedience (kicking out, bucking, rearing, striking)
– Failure to ever demonstrate correct lead or gait, if designated
– Failure to complete obstacle

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