By Bev Roberts
The North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC) introduced its Leisure Division (LeD) in 2019 with two ideas in mind. First, to introduce new riders to competitive trail riding in a simplified format. And second, to keep experienced NATRC competitors involved who needed a shorter distance.
The LeD format meets a variety of people’s needs. For many competitors, the one-day format fits their lifestyle. They can show up in the morning, compete over a 10-12 mile distance, attend a fun awards ceremony, and return home the same day. For those new to the sport, it offers a low stress introduction to competitive trail riding. For others, LeD is a stepping-stone, a try-out before moving into longer distanced, faster paced NATRC divisions. Some riders and equines who can’t physically do longer rides anymore have found LeD a perfect niche to be able to remain competitive.
Many long-time riders find interaction with new competitors in the LeD invigorating. The old-timers enjoy answering questions, taking newbies under their wings, and sharing funny been-there, done-that stories.
“I had those late winter blues and found myself with a rib injury and an inexperienced, anxious horse, but was determined to get out of the house and do something!” recalled experienced NATRC competitor Sarah Baldwin of Rockford, Alabama. “So, when the ‘Happy Birthday Leisure Division Ride’ was announced, I was itching to go. Ten miles of easy trail at a slower pace … Morgan and I could handle that.”
“I am glad we did; it was a positive outing. It was good for socializing my horse to new surroundings and groups. It was also good for socializing me, as I met a lot of new people,” said Baldwin. “This was more than a casual ride, as it had the familiar NATRC welcome and emphasis on safety, companionship and helping fellow riders. That is special.”
If you’d like to give NATRC LeD or any other NATRC divisions a try, visit www.natrc.org to see the schedule for upcoming events. You’ll also find trail riding tips, the NATRC rule book and an offer for free first-time memberships. Come ride with us!