What Is Extreme Mountain Trail?

Led by Mark H. and Lee Bolender, under the direction of it's governing organization IMTCA, Mountain Trail and Extreme Mountain Trail is one the fastest growing trail disciplines worldwide. This exciting new discipline has flourished and expanded over the years in the USA, Canada and Europe. Challenges and events are now held in all of these locations. Mark Bolender and the board of IMTCA are working diligently to bring Extreme Mountain Trail to the Olympics.

Mountain Trail and Extreme Mountain Trail are designed to develop the perfect Mountain Trail horse. Perfection is epitomized by a horse that is bold, confident and moves forward in a natural gait that is safe and also covers ground as if it were on a long day’s trail ride. The horse and rider should be able to willingly assess and enthusiastically navigate new obstacles with finesse and in a safe manner. The sport of Mountain Trail is especially exhilarating because it challenges horse and rider to navigate trail obstacles with technical accuracy, subtlety, and speed.

Mountain Trail and Extreme Mountain Trail are judged events designed to show the confidence, boldness and athletic ability of all breeds and all disciplines of horses and mules while being challenged by trail obstacles. In IMTCA competition, contestants are required to navigate a course with at least 6 approved obstacles and no more than 16 as set forth in the obstacle handbook.

Mountain Trail requires navigating obstacles at a walking pace. Extreme Mountain Trail requires navigating more obstacles at a faster pace. Extreme Mountain Trail is not a race, but the combination of loping, cantering, trotting, jogging and/or gaiting makes this sport move along at a faster pace than Mountain Trail.

The IMTCA Judging System is recognized as one of the leading formats for fair and equitable judging of an equine event that combines technical and stylistic elements coupled with consideration of “degree of difficulty." See the IMTCA handbook for more information.

What is a Challenge?

A competitive event for Mountain Trail and Extreme Mountain Trail is known as a “Challenge”. A Challenge will test a horse and rider’s ability to navigate both natural and man-made obstacles in a safe manner and with technical skills that demonstrate great horsemanship. Each Challenge will have three levels of difficulty that are designed to test but not intimidate riders. Attire and tack required for participating must be neat, clean and in good working order.

What is IMTCA?

IMTCA is the organization dedicated to the sport of Mountain Trail and Extreme Mountain Trail. The IMTCA’s mission is to promote and encourage the development of, and public interest in these sports. These sports exemplify the joy of excellent horsemanship and trail riding, and the organization strives to maintain that connection by focusing on developing and maintaining suitable standards of performance and judging, and in providing a fun-filled, family-oriented atmosphere at Challenges and events. More info.

The specific objectives of the IMTCA are to 1) promote and encourage development of, and public interest in the sport of Mountain Trail and Extreme Mountain Trail; 2) encourage excellent horsemanship and trail riding through the promotion of public IMTCA horse shows; 3) develop suitable and proper standards of performance and judging intended to govern all IMTCA horse contests sponsored and approved by the IMTCA; 4) encourage the development of better trail horses, and; 5) develop and disseminate informational material deemed desirable to provide contestants and spectators a better understanding of a proper performance of the Mountain Trail horse in the show arena.