Ride ‘n Tie rides require two humans and one horse – the fastest team wins over a marked course anywhere from 10 to 50+ km. Although the sport of Ride ‘n Tie has been in existence since 1971, it is a relatively unknown sport that combines trail running, endurance riding and strategy. The object is to get all three team members across the cross-country course by alternating riding and running.
It is a mass start in an open area. Riders with horses and their corresponding runners are lined up, the Starter “opens” the trail and the excitement begins. As the event moves onto the narrower trails, care and consideration is needed – it is best if runners keep to the right so horses and riders can pass on the left. One team member starts out running, the other starts on the horse and rides down the trail as far as they think their partner can run (or walk) and still keep up a decent pace. At that strategic point the rider stops, dismounts, ties the horse to a tree or fence post, and continues down the trail on foot. The team member who started on foot gets to the horse, unties it, mounts and rides to catch their partner up ahead. When they get to their running team member they can either stop and exchange or ride further up the trail and tie the horse and then continue running. When, where and how a team exchanges is up to them, and this is where the strategy lies. Every trail runner has their strengths and weaknesses and the same is true for the horses.
The rules are simple. Horses must be five years of age or older to compete. As in all OCTRA disciplines, each horse has a vet check at the beginning, middle and end of the ride. For longer distances there is a vet check approximately every 8 km. Whoever rides the horse into the vet check must tie the horse and leave on foot for their partner who comes in on foot to have the horse vetted and then proceed on horseback after passing the check. Standard endurance vetting is used. “Fit-to-continue” gets you your completion. Only one person can use the horse at a time so no riding double and no tailing. The distances completed are also eligible for the Distance Reward Program.
Ride ‘n Tie really gives you an appreciation and respect for the horse considering the miles traveled over the varying topography. It is strategy, teamwork and stamina – a reason to get in shape, to be a better rider and to help your horse. Factor all the strengths and weaknesses of two runners and one horse, along with weather conditions and the topography of the course, and you can understand why Ride ‘n Tie is as much mental as physical. This is why such a growing number of runners and riders are joining the sport of Ride ‘n Tie.