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Competitive Mountain Trail Riding showcases the bond between riders and their horse

Posted at 12:47 PM, Apr 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 16:51:11-04

NAMPA, Idaho — The Idaho Horse Expo came to a close on Sunday. The event returned after being canceled a year ago because of the pandemic. The Idaho Horse Council puts the expo together, inviting vendors from all over the country, clinics, and demonstrations for people to learn more about equestrian.

Another demonstration showed off the world of Competitive Mountain Trail Riding, showcasing what horses can do when they trust their owner.

"I get emotional. Horses are the most wonderful forgiving animals that God created," said Mary Jane Brown of MJB Clinics in Cambridge. "They will trust us to go over all these obstacles without a second thought if they have that bond with their rider."

Brown designed a course that resembled what a rider would find in the backcountry of Idaho.

“I was born and raised on the Salmon River in Idaho so until I was 18 that’s all I did. I was running the mountains, packed mules, guided hunters, and fisherman," said Brown. "So now that’s kind of what I do with our group, I teach them how to be safer."

Women make up the majority of horseback riders and many have a similar story to Mary Jane who raised a family and then got back into the sport when her kids grew up.

But, that doesn't mean men can't compete in competitive mountain trail riding. Mark Maddux from Pasco, Washington compared it to figure skating with horses.

"You are cutting a pattern in the ice very slow, very precise," said Maddux. "It’s not going 100 miles per hour. It is going very slow. I want a hoof here and I want a hoof there.”