Virtual Trail Rider Challenge

Virtual Trail Rider Challenge!


We all need something fun to do with our horses from home! 


I am so happy you have found us!

Our Trail Rider Challenge community loves trail obstacles. Here we have fun, learn, practice and compete while growing in confidence and skill while encouraging one another.

All disciplines and breeds are welcome.

Trail Rider Challenges are Horsemanship based. We use Trail Obstacles to improve our horsemanship and measure our progress. Improve your horsemanship and increase your horse’s willingness, confidence, and responsiveness. 

Trail obstacles are wonderful tools for measuring progress and increasing confidence. 


VTRC #40 Details

VTRC#40 is FUN and easy to set up!

Our focus this month is straight lines, accuracy over poles, and carrying an item while riding.

We want to help you improve your horsemanship and add the extra finesse to excel at any trail challenge. 

You do not need to set up the whole course to practice – especially if you are in a boarding barn. Just set up items and work on the concepts. Then, when you do set up your whole course, you will find it all comes together. Don’t stress. Remember this is fun!

OBSTACLES USED: A bridge, 8 ground poles, 2 barrels, lariat rope (depending on level), and mailbox. A setup guide is included to give you ideas and obstacle alternatives.

4th of July is the THEME! –  It is the time to give it a try!

Ideas for obstacles and alternatives for obstacles are listed in the entry packet you will receive after registration. You can also find lots of obstacle ideas in our Facebook group.

Fancy obstacles are not necessary.


VIDEOS ARE DUE August 5, 2024



VTRC#41 – WILL START August 8, 2024



Exciting – Just check out and receive your pattern. The Google Form is no longer needed. Just fill out your info when you submit your video!

virtual trail rider challenge prizes


When you enter a Virtual Trail Rider Challenge you will receive an entry packet and course map. After payment, a download window opens. You will also receive an email with a link to your download. You may save it and/or print it out. Course maps are also sent to you in a welcome email from

Be sure to join our Facebook Group to be a part of our community! Ask questions and see helpful videos, read tips and learn exercises to help you complete the challenge.

Each challenge is 5 weeks long. We allow 5 weekends to setup, practice and make your video.  The sooner you enter, the more time you have. Entries are accepted anytime from when the challenge opens up to the video deadline. 

Set up your course at home, where you board, or at a friend’s house. You may set it up in any area safe for riding. Then, practice your course. When you are ready (before the entry deadline), make a video of you completing the course.

I am sure you will practice a few times (if not a hundred), BUT, don’t get stuck in perfectionism and not get this done!  Kinda good and done is so much better than perfect and never done. We are all learning and having fun!

Upload your video to YouTube and submit the link. One of our qualified judges will then score your ride and provide you with feedback. The goal of the feedback is to help you improve.

Some people elect to purchase the pattern and use it as a practice plan without submitting a video. We do have an “exhibition” option if you would like to complete the challenge and receive feedback but do not want to be placed in the results.

It takes our judges about 1 week to judge the videos. When judging is complete, we release the unofficial results and email your score sheet with comments to you. We give entrants 48 hours to review the results and score sheets and let us know if there are any changes. Then we post official results and mail awards.

We have Individual & Team Awards!


Curious about all of this?

Go to YouTube and search VTRC to see past rides!



RIBBONS: Virtual Trail Rider Challenge Ribbons will be awarded for 1st – 10th in each class.

CHAMPION ROSETTE: To the highest score on the each Course. 


Adult: $38

Youth: $28 – Use the checkout button then use the code YOUTH.

Lead Line (6 & under): Free with a paid adult entry or pay a youth entry fee.

Entry Fee is for one class.

Additional entries for the same person are eligible for a discount. You may use a different horse.

TO ADD ADDITIONAL ENTRIES AT CHECKOUT – Click on Edit Order and change the quantity.

If you (1 rider) are entering 2 classes, change the quantity to “2”, then use the code 2X-VTRC to save $6.

If you (1 rider) are entering 3 classes, change the quantity to “3”, then use the code 3X-VTRC to save $12.


Under special circumstances entry fees may be forwarded to a future VTRC with a $10 processing fee.

Virtual Trail Challenge



Set up your course as close as you can to the course map. Your obstacles do not need to be exact. Work with what you have. For instance, if the course calls for a bridge and you do not have one, you could substitute a piece of card board or a tarp.

Just get as close as you can.

The course will use “Simple Trail Obstacles” from “How to Build Simple Trail Obstacles” by Kelli Paulson. If you would like instructions for building a trail course, order your book HERE. The ebook is an instant download so you can get started right away. The printed version takes up to 4-10 days for delivery.

Common items we use: Bridge (cardboard, tarp or mat), ground poles, trot over, rope gate or solid gate, cones or bending poles, guaracha pole or board, barrels, drag item, something to carry, something to go through like a curtain, noodles, branches or an alleyway, maze, plus a few “fun” things.

It sounds like a lot but DO NOT STRESS. We do not use all the items in each challenge plus a PDF will be included in your entry packet explaining the obstacles. It is easier than you think. You can use many found items and make do with what you have!

The course will fit in a small arena or other riding area (you do not need an arena). Use any safe to ride area for your course. A flat, grassy area or field, will work.


Each course will have 10-12 obstacles or maneuvers. The courses are designed to be challenging but doable using common trail obstacle items. Practicing the courses should improve your horsemanship.


Your video must be:

  • Continuous, without edits. (video edits = DQ)

  • Sound must be on. Do not add music.

  • Horizontal

  • Should be under 8 minutes. The course should be done efficiently and with minimal “schooling”.


  • The video camera from your smart phone should be sufficient.

  • Be aware of the lighting. Videos filmed at dusk are often hard to see.

  • The video person must stand in the designated position. DO NOT walk around or try to get a better angle. We need to see each entry from the same angle to make judging fair.

Upload your video to YouTube. Send an email to the address provided in your entry packet with the link to your video.



You may have someone read the course to you. The reader may read ONLY WHAT IS WRITTEN in the course instructions. No coaching allowed. The exception is the Beginner Youth class or the Special Needs Class.

Virtual Trail Rider Challenge awards


5 Courses are offered. Think of each course as a level. Each course uses a similar course setup. The instructions and requirements for each course are different.

To enter multiple classes, add an entry in the checkout by changing the quantity.


All ages are January 1 of current year.


Lead line: 7 & under

Beginner Youth – with a coach in the arena

Youth 13 & under, Youth 14-18

Amateur Rider

Rider does not get paid to train, give lessons, or show at a national level.

Amateur riders are divided by age: 19-49, 50-59, 60+

Open Rider 

Any rider, particularly trainers and riders who ride at a higher or more competitive level. Open riders may enter in the Young Horse Class or Open Class.

Young Horse

A mustang who has been adopted less than 18 months (as of January 1) ago may compete in the Young Horse Class regardless of age. Other special circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis. A young horse for In-Hand is 3 & under, Basic is 4 & under. A young horse in Trail Rider is 5 & under.

Gaited Horse

Open or Amateur rider.


This is the easiest course. It is offered as an In-Hand course and/or a riding course. The course is walk with optional trotting. This a good option for green/beginner riders, green horses, young horses, new horses, or anyone who is not ready for the Basic Course. This class is also suitable for older horses (people) or horses (people) with issues preventing them from competing at a higher level. Open to youth and adults.

    • Do you need a simpler course to set up? 

    • Are you nervous about sending in a video? 

    • Do have a horse that is still green?

This is the place to start!

OPTIONAL TROTTING – When optional trotting is specified, a well preformed walk can score a maximum of 7 points. A well preformed trot can receive more points. However, if the trot is not preformed well, it could receive a lower score.

EXPERIENCED AMATEURS should enter the OPEN/Experienced class in the Lite Division.

This course is completed at halter. More challenging then the Lite Course.

Any halter that fits well is acceptable. The horse may or may not be saddled.

Walk/Trot. Youth/Amateur/Open.

Very basic course with optional trotting.

    • Lead Line: 7 years & younger (free with adult entry – fill out entry form but no need to go through payment section)

    • Beginner Youth: Youth 13 & under with a coach in the arena


Basic Course – For beginner and novice riders, green horses and young horses. Walk/Trot.

Amateur Walk Only: For beginner or timid riders or horses only sound at the walk. Walk Only does not toward Basic Course Champion Awards.


For horses and riders who are comfortable loping. 

WALK/TROT/CANTER – Most challenging course.

Experienced riders who are ready for a challenge. This course challenges your horsemanship skills and partnership.

Formerly the Extreme Course.



(Walk, Optional Trot)
Special Needs
Horse Husbands
Liberty – Beginner


Lead Line 
Beginner Youth 



(Walk, Trot)


Young Horse – 3 years & younger, open people allowed
Liberty – Advanced


(Walk, Trot)
Youth 13 & under
Youth 14-18
Amateur Walk Only
Amateur 19-49
Amateur 50-59
Amateur 60+
Gaited Horse (Walk/Gait)
Young Horses – 4 years & under, open riders allowed


(Walk, Trot, Simple Lope)
Youth 14-18
Amateur 19-49
Amateur 50-59
Amateur 60+
Gaited Horse (Walk/Gait/Canter)
Young Horse – 5 years & under – Open riders allowed.


(Walk, Trot, Lope) 
Virtual Horse Show
- Kris


Each entry will be scored and judged.

A score sheet with comments will be mailed to you at the end of the competition.

Each contestant will perform the required trail pattern. The best trail horse will be willfully guided with no apparent resistance. Any movement made by the horse on its own or deviation from the pattern must be considered a lack of control. Credit will be given for horsemanship, smoothness, calmness, finesse, forward motion, control, attitude, quickness and authority in performing the various obstacles while using controlled speed. This event is intended to display the versatile working ability of a solid trail horse.

A good horseman will never endanger themselves or their horse. A good working relationship between horse and rider should be rewarded. Riders will abide by the ruling of the judge. All judges’ decisions are final.


Open to any discipline and breed of horse.

  • As a part of entering, all riders agree to a waiver and photo/video release form.

  • Riders must pay a non-refundable entry fee.

  • Equines must be serviceably sound and in good condition as determined by the judge.

  • It is expected that each horse shall be treated humanely with kindness and respect at all times.

  • It is permissible to change rein hand to work an obstacle.


  • Boots/Shoes with a heel are mandatory.

  • Show clothing not required.

  • Clothing should be nice, neat and appropriate for the weather.


  • Riders from any discipline are welcome to enter.

  • Tack must be safe, humane, and in good working condition.

  • Snaffle Bits and Bosals: May use 2 hands.

  • Shanked Bit: Should use 1 hand. 1-point penalty each time 2 hands are used.

  • NO: Mechanical hackamores, gag-bits, tie-downs, draw reins, martingales, or wire chinstraps.


  • You are responsible for your own safety. If an obstacle or task is not safe for you and your horse, simplify the obstacle.

Example: Carry a Slicker. If you cannot do this safely, carry a small towel or wash cloth. Do the best you can safely do with your horse today.

  • No live people can be used as a part of an obstacle.



A horse/person pair who show in the Lite Course, may not show at a higher level in the same class.  Pair may enter In-Hand and Lite riding. The same horse may be shown by a more advanced person at another level. A person may show one horse in the Lite Course and another horse at another level.

A horse/person pair who show in Basic Course, which is walk/trot, may not show in a walk/trot/lope class (Trail Rider or Challenge). The same horse may be shown by another person at another level. A person may show one horse in the Basic Course and another horse at another level. 

A horse/person who show in the Basic Walk Only course may not show in another riding class. The Basic Walk Only class is not eligible for Championship awards on the course because they are judged on a different scale from the walk/trot riders.

A horse/person pair who show in the Trail Rider Course, which is walk/trot/lope, may also show in the Challenge Course. 

A horse may be shown by different riders.

A rider may compete more than once in a class or on a course with different horses.


We offer team awards!

Ride with friends in person or virtually!

  • This is a fun way to support, encourage, and keep each other accountable during the challenge.

  • Trainers your students may compete as a team!

  • Barns or riding clubs – Work together to set up your course, practice and help each other video. Get the whole barn involved.

A team is 3-6 horse/rider pairs who are entered in the current VTRC.

  • If the horse/rider pair, enters more than one course in the challenge, they must choose one course to count for team points. The course entered on the team entry form counts towards team points.

  • A person may only be on one team per challenge.

  • To calculate team points, the top 3 percentage scores from each team are added together.

  • Team registration opens 1 week after each VTRC opens. The registration link is placed in the Facebook Group.

AWARDS: The riders in the top 5 teams receive a team medal.


Each obstacle will be worth 10 points. Points can be given in .5 increments.

Obstacles not completed will receive a zero. Riders will still receive a score for the course.


0 – Not Attempted

1 – Obstacle not Completed. Attempt made, uncooperative horse, 3 refusals.

     Obstacle is not at least half completed.

2 – Bad. Attempt made, uncooperative horse, 2 refusals.

    Obstacle mostly completed.

3  –  Poor. Attempt made, uncooperative horse, 1 refusal. Significant issues with basics.

     Obstacle completed.

4 –  Not Satisfactory. Obstacle completed with hesitation, rough but done

5 –  Completed. Obstacle completed w/ slight deviation or hesitation

6 – Satisfactory. Obstacle completed as expected.

7 – Good. Obstacle completed smoothly and willingly

Note: To score an 8 or above – the horse must be willing, confident and brave, moving with rhythm and balance. The rider must be a partner to the horse, using small cues, timing and feel. The pair should be working together effortlessly.

8  –  Very Good. Obstacle completed willingly and with finesse

9 – Excellent. Obstacle completed willingly with a noticeable higher quality.

10 – Obstacle completed willingly w/ a higher degree of quality and extreme


Obstacle Creativity: 0-5 points

Obstacles which are sufficient to get the job done receive a 3. When extra care and effort are added, the score may be as high as 5.

Partnership: 0-5 points

The horse and rider should work together demonstrating their partnership without resistance while being willing and responsive.

Horsemanship: 0-5 points

The rider should exhibit correct horsemanship, small cues, confidence and skill. The rider’s choices such as approaches to obstacles and lines of travel, effect this score.


10 Point penalty:

  • Email wording: When submitting your video – name, horse name, course, class and video link must be included.

  • Video issues: Videos must be filmed Horizontal. Camera person must stand in designated position.

  • Caller/Coaching – Coaching by any person, which is not the reader who is reading the directions only, will occur a penalty up to 10 points for each occurrence as determined by the judge. The Beginning Youth and Lead Line classes are the exception to this rule.


  • Video edits – video must be continuous.

  • Volume must be on. NO music may be added. You do not need to do anything to turn the sound on. Sound would need to be turned off for this to be an issue.

Trail obstacles are wonderful tools for measuring progress and increasing confidence.

Remember to HAVE FUN and don't stress!


To become a sponsor please contact Kelli at