Two organizations I know of, I’m sure there are more:
NATRC – North American Trail Ride Conference – www.natrc5.org for Region 5.
ACTHA – American Competitive Trail Horse Association – www.actha.us
Having never participated in an ACTHA ride, I cannot say anything about them. I do hope to get to ride in the Broadview Ranch ride this year. I’m not sure how many rides they have close enough for me.
I have been fortunate enough to compete in a few NATRC rides and highly recommend these. Let me get the fine-print-disclaimer out of the way up front. They are not cheap. It will require a significant investment of
cash as well as time; by the time you travel, feed yourself, feed your horse, and pay the ride fees it adds up. So far, never have I felt that I didn’t get my money’s worth of riding and fun.
So, if you get a chance to do one of these rides, go for it.
The Biltmore is probably my favorite. Although when we did the ride (many years ago) it was in August I think, and it was miserably hot for camping. Riding was fine, but the camping was in a wide open field with NO shade for man or beast. The riding there was beautiful. Of course we had the bonus of the amazing-spinning-salivating Arabian. Great memories with Jul, Bee, Amos, Spit, and Pria.
Uwharrie Forest provides me with lots of great memories as well, EVEN THOUGH I think it rained the entire time we were there! Nelle was in fine form at this ride. I particularly liked the obstacles in this ride.
Virginia Highlands is much closer to home for me. Good riding. Have no recollection of any of the obstacles, so cannot comment on them! This one is particular special to me as it is the only competitive trail ride Yosemite Sam has ever done; Sarah was his partner in this ride. Nelle was taking care of me for this ride.
I cannot remember the name of the first CTR we did, but I think it was a something-Memorial Ride. It will come to me later. It was from the Livery at Fox Creek. I don’t think they do this ride anymore. For me it was a great ride. I could be prejudice since it the closest to home for me. Much more familiar with the territory here. I liked the obstacles and the judging. Beautiful country for sure.
In general, I like the overall good atmosphere of the NATRC rides. I very much like the emphasis on the welfare of the horse. Safety for both horse and rider is obviously important as well. Yes, there are rules and some I don’t like. I do not like the requirement that the horses be stationary tied. This depends on the ride and the facilities available at a particular ride. Some offer stalls. Still, it is a good opportunity to ride in different areas, with good dependable maps, with a decent group of folks. Naturally, there are prizes for the winners. These are token awards, trust me. The real prize is the accomplishment just made by the team of horse and rider.