That being said ACTHA competitors must accept that ACTHA is primarily a trail riding sport and the type of horsemanship valued most is what we will term Practical Horsemanship.
It should be understood that the guidelines of practical horsemanship are based upon the fact that the horse and rider have left the relative safety and level footing of an arena. We assume you are now riding in the wilderness. The following are guidelines for Practical Horsemanship.
1. A balanced seat-rider sits in the middle of the saddle with their head, shoulders, hips and heal in a straight line.
2. A very slight draping rein allowing freedom of movement of the horse’s head for balance and eyesight.
3. Fluid movement in time with the horse’s movement.
4. Heels should be down.
5. The lower leg should be in close proximity to the Horse’s sides.
6. Riders should adjust their seat to accommodate whatever slope they find themselves on.
A. On an uphill grade rising slightly forward relieving pressure on the horses loins.
B. On a downhill grade seat moves deep and back towards the cantle of the saddle.
7. Posting is a very useful tool for both the english and western rider and will be appreciated by ACTHA.
8. Neck reining is also a useful tool for many required maneuvers.
9. Ground tying is discouraged under trail conditions ( loss of control potentially affecting self and other’s ).
10. In general the trail rider should look forward.
11.The reins should always be in control of the rider.
12. When jumping a western rider with a horn on the saddle may place one hand on the horn while releasing the horse’s head slightly with their rein hand.
13. Riders may grab mane without penalty.
14. When mounting riders should use the aid of natural terrain such as stumps, secure rocks or slope of the ground. Mounting blocks may be provided.
15. Western riders should not grab their saddle horn while mounting. The mane is an appropriate aid for mounting.
16. Riders must maintain control of the reins during mounting and dismounting.
17. Western riders in shank bits should neck rein.
18. Riders should be carrying lead rope, halter (if not riding in a halter bridle), a hoof pick, knife or leatherman and water if appropriate.
19. Attire. Appropriate clothing for trail conditions and prevailing weather. Bandanas, chaps or chinks, helmets and long sleeves recommended. NO SNEAKERS OR SHORTS.
20. Gaited horse may use saddles, bits and bridles appropriate for their style of riding.
21. Dismounting. Both feet should arrive upon the ground at the same time and the rider should be facing slightly forward when done. Riders may lean over the saddle and slowly lower themselves to the ground.
22. ABOVE ALL… COMON SENSE, SAFTEY AND SPORTSMANSHIP ARE GIVENS.
Photo: ACTHA Member Deanna Boyd and and her horse Shiloh of Arkansas