English trail class is a fairly easy performance class for model horse enthusiasts to enter. All you need are a few simple props such as the ground poles or jumping poles, a model horse in a suitable pose, an English huntseat saddle and an English bridle. A dressage saddle and bridle may also be used but isn't very common, so some judges may not pin your entires as high if you use such tack. Of course, you can also show your model horses in Western trail classes, too. One of the best parts about trail classes is that the set up and props for each are nearly identical. Just swap your English tack for Western tack and you have not one but two sets of performance show photos to enter.
About English Trail Classes
English trail classes are a rather new addition to 'real' horse shows and are based on the Western horse show model. In real life, most English riders enjoy taking their horses out on trail. English trail classes give riders a chance to show their horses in something other than jumping classes, and horses of all ages can enter a suitable trail class.
In an English trail class, horses are ridden through a pattern comprised of various obstacles. Riders may be asked to stop at a mailbox and remove mail while mounted, open and close a gate, walk over a bridge, canter over poles, or trot over poles. In real life, riders may be asked to mount and dismount their horses or dismount and lead their horses over and through various obstacles.
Judges look for precise execution of the movements and for a calm, steady horse who is willing to do what his rider asks.
Horse Models to Use in English Trail Classes
Most model horse breeds suitable for English-style riding would be suitable for trail classes. Breeds competing in trail may include stock breeds such as Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas as well as light breeds such as Thoroughbreds and Arabians. All types of ponies could compete, as well as Warmblood breeds and other light or hunter-type horses.
Models NOT suitable for English trail classes include:
- Grazing, Sleeping, or Rearing Poses: Obviously if the horse is supposed to be obedient and responsive, a judge would disqualify rearing, bucking, sleeping or eating "on the job" so to speak!
- Galloping Poses: Most English trail classes call for cantering, which is a more controlled gait than a flat-our gallop.
- Jumping Horses: Horses do jump over obstacles in English trail classes, but usually those obstacles are quite low to the ground. Typical jumps found in a trail class may include a simple cross rail fence, a low straight-rail fence or a fallen tree trunk used as a log jump. A soaring, fancy and tall jump is best suited for the timed jumper ring as are models show in full flight over the top of a fence.
- Gaiting Horses: Gaited breeds may participate in trail classes, and in fact many gaited breeds make excellent trail horses. A natural flat shod Tennessee Walking Horse, for example, would be a superb Western or English trail horse. A Tennessee Walking Horse in the typical "big lick" trot would not be suited to trail but found in the show ring.
English Trail Classes for Model Horses: Obstacle Ideas
Once you've looked over your Breyer model horse collection and chosen a few horses suitable for an English trail class, what obstacles should you use? The answer depends on the horse model's pose and whether or not you have a handler doll to use in your pictures.
- Standing Horses: Standing horses may be in the middle of performing a pattern, such as stopping at a mailbox or stopped next to a gate. If you have a rider doll, showing her bending over to unlatch the gate or open the mailbox adds a great touch of realism. A standing horse may also have a rider doll dismounted and holding the reins to lead the horse over an obstacle. In English performance, whenever you lead a horse from the ground or drop the reins to demonstrate his ground-tying abilities, the buckle holding the two reins together is unlatched so that the horse does not accidently tangle up in the reins, and the stirrups are run up the leathers and/or crossed over the pommel so the irons (stirrups) don't hit the horse's sides and cause him to spook.
- Trotting Model Horses: Trotting models offer the most choices. Your horse model may be trotting over ground poles, trotting to the next obstacles, or trotting over a bridge. Look for pictures of real horse shows to find obstacles to copy and make. Many small, local English horse shows place a blue tarp on the ground and decorate it with corner objects to mimic crossing water. You can create the same effect in your model horse dioramas. The possiblities are endless!
- Cantering Breyers and Other Model Horses: Cantering horses are usually shown crossing over ground poles. Look at real horses cantering over poles to make sure they are spaced properly. You may also show your cantering horse models approaching small fences or other natural obstacles.
Doll Costumes and Model Horse Tack for English Trail Classes
If you're using a Breyer doll such as Brenda Breyer or Ben Breyer, the doll should wear English huntseat attire including black English boots, tan or gray close-fitting breeches, a collared shirt and a black or navy hunt jacket. A black hunt cap and gloves complete the outfit. Casual local shows may omit the jacket, especially during hot weather, but for your model horse show pictures deck your dolls out in a complete hunter outfit.
The tack used for English trail classes is the average English bridle and whatever bit the horse normally takes. An English huntseat saddle and pad are also used.
Start Showing Today in English Trail Classes
You probably have just what you need right now in your model horse collection to set up a simple English trail class. So get started today, and enter this new and fun model horse performance class in live and photo shows.