This month I am posting the finals course from the AQHA Youth World Championships. As we approach the Fall, we are seeing the bigger, "epic courses". To me, this course epitomizes a world show type pattern. It was designed by Mr. Tim Kimura, who is the most prominent trail course designer on the planet. For decades Tim has traveled the world designing trail courses and giving trail clinics. Best of all, he has been one of my very best friends for close to 40 years. When Dawn and I got married 28+ years ago, Tim was one of my groomsmen.
This course starts with something fast and curvy in the serpentine followed by jogging up to a rope gate, stopping and negotiating a different kind of gate. The rider must close the gate on a different standard than the7 opened it on. (Obstacle 2). This gate also serves as a walk over obstacle with 3 logs. The fine motor skills of a horse are tested after taking the bigger, faster steps of the serpentine. (Obstacle 1)
From the gate the horse must step into a left lead lope for curved forward motion lope overs (Obstacle 3) followed by collecting gait and making some shorter strided left lead curved lope overs (Obstacle 4). A quick lead change is then required to execute another set of forward motion lope overs (Obstacle 5) on a right curve. The horse must then continue with forward motion into a chute and stop (Obstacle 6). In the first 6 obstacles a horse has changed gears and directions like an automobile on a windy mountain road. A horse must demonstrate considerable athleticism followed by the confidence and resolve to stop on a dime and settle.
After all that maneuvering and gait changing a horse is required to utilize its patience and fine motor skills by side passing and backing (Obstacle 7).
A horse's tolerance and obedience is put to a hard test when it has to step into a jog within minimum space and jog three single strided jog overs, turn right, and jog three double strided jog overs (Obstacle 8). Afterwards it is time to kick it back up with a series of extended jog overs, some on a curve (Obstacle 9).
Obstacles 10 and 11 was walking into a box and completing a full turn each direction. The first turn right and second one left. The final obstacles was a series of walk overs with both single stride and double stride slots set facing towards the out gate. This was quite a challenge in that the horse had just done extended jog overs, was required to turn in a tight space and finally pick through varied walk/overs while facing the exit.
This course was filled with a combination of small movements, big movements, gait changes, direction changes, striding changes, rhythm changes, and body control tests. It required a horse to use a number of muscle memories while accepting a bright and possibly intimidating environment (see photo below). This was a course for a highly schooled horse and rider.
The winner of this class, Some Hot Potential ridden by Emma Brown scored a whopping 245 (81.5/81.5/82), quite an accomplishment on a course of this magnitude.