A beginners guide to TREC

TREC is a great sport suited for any horse and rider with varying ranges of ability. First timers are very welcome and most competitions run a pairs class so you can go with a friend for moral support whilst your confidence builds. Whether you are aiming for the Championships or just enjoy exploring the countryside, the emphasis is on having fun with your friends and your horse.

The competition involves obstacles you might encounter out hacking including map reading, mounting (and dismounting), crossing water, opening gates, jumping fallen logs or ducking under low branches. Full Trec events are usually run over a weekend, either one or two days, and can include a social event at a 2 day competition.

TREC does not require a particularly athletic, well bred horse. A draught horse, thoroughbred or a pony could compete side by side.

What to expect

Trec is a three phase event.

Phase one POR (orienteering)

The first part of the POR is to have your tack checked, to make sure you are safe and carrying all the compulsory equipment. Be aware at this stage your horse may also be checked by a vet. You will then go into the map room, where there will be a master map. You must copy this route onto a supplied blank map which you will take with you. There is a time limit for this. When your time is up you will leave the map room and the stewards will tell you what speed you will need to start at.

On the correct route there may be tickets for you to find, these are often letters or numbers that you should mark on your card once found. These can be either ‘good or ‘bad’ tickets. Good tickets are given at checkpoints on the marked route, bad tickets can be picked up for going on the most obvious alternative route. In this case riders can be penalised for finding a ‘bad’ ticket.

A halt of at least 5 minutes must be imposed by the organisers at each check point. This halt will be increased to 15 minutes if it includes a veterinary inspection or fitness check.

Other penalties that can be occurred for the following:

  • Equipment
    Incorrect or lack of specified equipment required.
  • Shoeing
    For a horse arriving at any checkpoint with one or more missing shoes.
  • Veterinary
    For every additional 5 minutes kept at a halt by a vet in order for a horses heart rate to drop below the maximum limit, up to 15 points can be deducted.

Phase two MA (Control of paces)

This phase comprises of two stages judged on a riders ability to ride their horse in a controlled manner in two paces;

A slow canter along a corridor up to 150m in length and 2m wide, followed by a fast walk back along the same corridor. The horse must cross the start and finish line in the required pace.  Along the corridor the combination have to keep the same pace, without breaking or changing pace or stepping out of the corridor.

Phase three PTV (obstacles)

This phase is intended to demonstrate the high degree of training required for a trail riding horse: obedience, confidence, courage, balance and surefootedness as well as the correctness and appropriateness of the rider’s aids, (add comma) when negotiating obstacles, (add comma) which simulate circumstances that may be encountered in the countryside.

It is the rider and horse combination that is tested. The course consists of up to 16 obstacles (10 for winter indoor trec competitions), each worth 10 points, all of which are optional. A competitor can select those which best suit themselves and their horse and attempt those at the best of their combined abilities. If the rider chooses to miss an obstacle they will not score any points for that obstacle, yet score for all the obstacles attempted.

Winter Trec

Winter Trec competitions are usually held in an indoor school and have a shortened format consisting of MA (Control of Paces) and 10 PTV Obstacles. Some may have an optional POR course, however this does not contribute to the overall score.

What you will need

There is no dress code for TREC, but suitable riding attire is advised.

A riding hat of current approved British TREC standard MUST be worn at all times when mounted and competing (including when undertaking led obstacles).

An approved body protector is only required on the PTV (Obstacle course) if a ridden fixed jump is included), you may of course use a body protector for any or all phases if you prefer. Please check the most recent rule book for up to date approved standard information.

For the POR phase riders must also carry the following equipment:

  • First- aid kit (human and equine)
  • Hoof pick (Boot to replace shoe compulsory at L3 and above, other levels optional)
  • Head collar and lead rope (required on PTV if competing with a martingale)
  • Medical armband (required on PTV)
  • Horse ID with rider number and emergency phone number
  • Hi visibility clothing
  • Torch
  • Whistle
  • Compass
  • Pens
  • Waterproofs
  • Mobile phone – optional (switched off and in provided sealed bag)
KarenA beginners guide to TREC