Back in November I headed to Equitana with Lisa W (okay okay, I piggy-backed with her as I had to go pick something up). Since I don't have a horse, want a horse, or ride, I spent the majority of my time there watching the demos/events rather than prowling the exhibition for bargains (although I did get one - more on that later). The two events I saw were the mounted games (that's for another post), and the State of Origin ASH Time Trials. I was especially interested in this event as I had never seen it before. I had a vague idea of what it involved (an Australian version of arena trail, with ASHs) but no real details.
At Equitana, the ASH Time Trials were held in the outdoor arena. As it was the last event of a four-day-long event (complete with barrel racing and mounted games) in that arena, the ground was pretty torn to shreds!
The Time Trial class is a test of a horse's ability and tractability. They were originally designed as a competition in times of cattle shortage. For a frame of reference, it's a bit like a trail class, except that it is timed, with time penalties for breaking pace in particular areas, knocking down or knocking over a peg or obstacle, etc. The time serves as the base for the score, and penalities are added (if there are any). All modern patterns with have sections that have to be completed at a walk and at a trot, and the rest of the pattern can be completed at any gait (canter is by far the most common).
The obstacles in this event should reflect only those found in the bush or country. Hessian walls, tarps, the act of backing through rails etc are not obstacles usually encountered. While they may reflect the horse's ability to accept unusual elements, they do not necessarily test a horse's ability to perform manoeuvres at a fast pace - which is what the time trial is all about.
(Thanks to the Aust Stock Horse Society rulebook for much of the information above.)
So, onto the event at Equitana, in photos.
The obstacles on this course included a gate, a small jump, two barrels, and a couple of sets of pegs to be woven around. I did look in my ASH Pattern book, but couldn't find the exact pattern used here, so you'll just have to use your imagination. ;)
This picture below is on the right side of the above.
And pics of the most interesting obstacles for prop makers: the gate and the jump.
The competitors in this event were two each from South Australia (green), Victoria (cream), New South Wales (dark blue) and Queensland (I think) (red). They were identified by their solid-coloured shirts. All the horses in this competition were purebred ASHs. (I don't know if the event is open to crossbreds or other breeds.) The competitors, eight in total, filed in and did a lap of the arena, and then lined up at the far end of the arena.
One by one, they were called down to the start end for their turn, where they circled their horse a little at a walk to settle them.
(Since Equitana draws a large number of horsey people from different disciplines, they had a commentator in the arena, who interviewed some of the riders before and after their round.)
As the first part of the pattern (through the timers to the gate) was the walk, having a settled and relaxed horse was very important! Breaking from the walk would result in penalties from the judges. They passed through the timers and headed to the first obstacle, being very careful to stay at the walk.
As soon as the rider touched the first obstacle, the gate, the horse was allowed to break gait. The riders then opened the gate and passed through as quickly as they could...
and had to shut it completely (secured) in place before they could move on.
The next part of the pattern was a short (maybe 20m) canter, to an almost 360-degree turn around a peg (potted plant) and over a small log.
On such a tight angle, I'm sure it's hard to jump gracefully, but some managed it!
There were a couple of horses who slipped and fell in the torn-up ground at this obstacle.
Once over the log, they had to turn around the peg again and head towards the next obstacle, which was a set of barrels.
Competitors had to weave a tight figure-of-eight around the barrels without knocking them over.
And then it was a short jaunt to the next obstacle on the far side of the arena. Because of my position I wasn't able to get a great idea of what this obstacle was - I think it involved a couple of potted samplings and perhaps a ground pole. I didn't manage to get any photos of it that looked half-decent, either.
After that, the final obstacle (of which I also didn't have a good idea of what it involved from where I was sitting) included a very small jump, some quick weaving, and then a trot through the last two pegs (potted saplings) back to the judge.
It was very important to bring the horse back to a trot before passing through the final two pegs, as they were the marker for the gait change.
Some slowed quickly, from high speed:
While others were trotting before they reached the markers.
Then back through the timers to complete the course. (My pics of this have disappeared...)
The riders did two rounds, but I didn't have time to stay for most of the second round. I did find out later that the cute buckskin won the event!
I hope you enjoyed this journey through an ASH Time Trial course! I definitely learnt about a new event by watching it and then going through the photos afterwards for this post.