What is a Ride 'n' Tie?In pioneer times if two people found themselves with one horse one person would walk while the other rode ahead on the horse. After a few miles the rider would tie the horse to a tree and continue on foot. The person who began walking would catch up to the horse, mount it, and ride past the second person. Again the horse would be tied, and the relay begun again. This gave each person chance to rest as they rode and some time for the horse to rest as it stood waiting for the next rider.
The same process happens in Ride ‘n’ Tie. Our ancestors may have been content to walk but today’s participants love the thrill of a race. Introductory races can be five miles long, but ride 'n' ties can cover twenty miles or more of rugged trail. In most ride ‘n’ ties you must tie the horse at least once on trail, but you may otherwise plan your strategy as you like. Some teams are comfortable leaving their horse tied to a tree out, and some prefer to stay together.
For the horse’s safety there is at least one veterinary check on trail. Horses will get an examination during the race to make sure they are not being over stressed.
What Is the Goal?Ride ‘n’ Tie is a race. The first team with all members crossing the finish line wins. But the mantra of long distance riding ‘to finish is to win’. Not everyone competing is marathon runner and many people walk or jog, taking pride in the accomplishment of finishing.
Equipment You'll Need
- A saddle comfortable for horse and riders.
- Adjustable stirrup leathers if you and your partner don’t have the same leg length.
- A halter, bridle and rope combination that allows you to safely tie your horse without removing the bit such as halter under a bridle, or a special endurance bridle.
- Not equipment, but nice to have is a pit crew to meet you on trail with refreshing drinks, snacks, sponges, towels, and encouragement.
- Sponges and water buckets for cooling down the horse.
- Shoes or boots comfortable and safe for both running and riding. Several companies design running shoes with heels for riding. Or use regular running shoes with safety stirrups or stirrup cages.
What to ExpectBefore the race begins the veterinary teams examine your horse. The trail master descibes the features of the trail, how to follow trail makers, where vet checks and water stops are. All horses and runners will line up at the starting line and begin at the same time. This can be an exciting and confusing time and you may be allowed to start a few minutes later to avoid the melee.
Before the race you will have planned your strategy: either stay together, or run a certain distance or for a certain time before tying the horse. At the vet check your horse will be thoroughly examined to ensure it is not being over worked.
Your placing will be determined when your last team member crosses the finish line. The vet teams examine your horse again at the end. If your horse finishes lame or is otherwise over stressed you may be eliminated.
Preparing Your HorseIf you have been riding four or five times a week either in the ring or on the trail your horse will probably be fit enough to do a ride ‘n’ tie of less than twelve miles at a slow to moderate pace. If you plan to go further faster than you’ll need to prepare weeks in advance gradually increasing the distance and then the speed at which you travel.
If you want to be able to leave your horse tied to a tree practice at home. Go with another rider, tie your horse and have the other rider travel past your horse first at a walk, and then faster until your horse becomes relaxed. Most horses quickly learn to stand quietly. You’ll also want to make sure that your horse is accustomed to being examined by a veterinarian, including standing quietly to have his pulse and temperature taken.
Preparing YourselfFind a partner—spouse, sibling, child, or friend who can ride. Both of you should be able to walk or run one half the distance you are planning to go. Riding and running over rough trail is more fatiguing than just riding or running alone so don’t over estimate your fitness level! If you plan to go further then you will plan your own conditioning program like a marathon runner.
Wear comfortable clothing. Many people wear riding tights or very loose pants. If the weather starts out cool, layer your clothing and hand off unwanted garments to your pit crew as you warm up. Although helmets may not be required they are still a wise idea. If you don’t know how to tie a secure quick release knot, you’ll want to perfect that before heading out.
At The End of The Day
The winners will collect their ribbons and trophies. Awards for the last team across the finish line may have been hotly contested. And finishers will get completion awards and the thrill of accomplishment.