Trial like a triathlon

The Alberta Horse Trials Association recently staged the Alhambra Southside Dodge Challenge Summer Event at Alhambra Stables just west of Red Deer.

Jaimie Stephenson guides her horse Diamond Arrabis over a barrier in the jumping portion of the Dodge Challenge Summer Event horse trials at Alhambra Stables.

The Alberta Horse Trials Association recently staged the Alhambra Southside Dodge Challenge Summer Event at Alhambra Stables just west of Red Deer.

Nearly 180 riders and mounts from across Alberta participated in the three-day eventing trials, which is often described as an equestrian triathlon since horses and riders must complete three phases of competition.

The first is a dressage test requiring an exact sequence of movements in an enclosed arena. Judges look for balance, rhythm and obedience of the horse and its harmony with the rider.

The cross-country phase requires physical endurance of both horse and rider as they navigate obstacles set on a galloping course that may be several kilometres in length. The obstacles are solidly built manmade objects such as fences and walls as well as natural obstacles such as ponds, streams and ditches. The rider/horse team is required to cross the finish line within a certain time frame.

Last is the stadium portion, which is akin to show jumping and tests the technical jumping skills of the horse and rider, including suppleness, obedience, fitness and athleticism. Like cross country, the event is timed with penalties assessed for running over.

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