Wellington Area Competitive Trail Riding Club Incorporated

Membership Fees and Application Form

Membership is open to individuals or families or to other groups whose objects are compatible. Membership fees for the year 1 August 2017 to 31 July 2018 are as follows:

Annual Club Membership fees

Families $45
Individuals $30
Non-riding members $15
Non-riding members requiring hard-copy newsletters by post $20

Please complete an online membership application / renewal form and pay by Internet Banking (details in the form).
Please provide an email address for newsletters to be sent to if possible - it helps keep costs down for the club.
Also please register your horse  with WATRC to be considered for our Annual Awards.

Following a vote taken at the AGM held on Sunday 15 June 2008, WATRC has ceased its affiliation to ESNZ. Club events do not count towards kilometre or points awards or national championship qualification criteria.

About Competitive Trail Riding

Recently published, the Information for Competitors booklet is a brief summary of ride protocols, etiquette, and procedures

Competitive Trail Riding (CTR) is a growing sport in the Wellington region. It caters for a wide range of riders, experienced and inexperienced, competitive and cruisy. For most the main attraction is the opportunity for an extended ride over forest trails or farmlands in the company of other riders on a regular basis.

Rides are open to anyone who has a moderately fit and sound horse or pony at least four years old, who can stay in the saddle for a couple of hours. If you would like to see new countryside and ride in company over marked trails with some of the most spectacular views in the Wellington region, trail riding might be for you.

"Competitive" may be misleading because the aim is not to be the fastest, but to arrive at a set time with the least stressed horse. There is a strong emphasis on safe and considerate riding. This is the riding equivalent of an organised fun-run. Some riders are seriously into the sport and go on to national competition in CTR, others use CTR as training for Endurance riding which also has a national competition structure, but for many the main aim is to enjoy the ride and the good company of other riders. In a well organised ride a good time is had by all, especially the horses.

The Wellington Area Trail Riding Club (WATRC) has been active since 1987. Its objects are to promote and encourage endurance and competitive trail riding on horseback, to assist in organising local endurance or competitive trail rides, to encourage safe and enjoyable outdoor riding , and to provide opportunities for horse riders and their families to interact socially.

Competitive Rides

A WATRC trail ride follows a marked course, generally of 15 to 35 kilometres, on forest trails and farm lands, at a pace averaging a slow to medium trot for most classes, a little faster for the most experienced riders. Horses are vet-checked before leaving and riders' gear is checked for safety.

Riders are sent out singly or in groups of two or three, with a set time to finish the course. Riders may dismount and lead their horses on the course, but must maintain forward motion at all times. You are not permitted to stop to rest the horse. Weaving, zig-zagging or circling on the course is not permitted and can result in elimination.

Generally within 1 km of the finish line there will be a designated "control area", marked with a sign. From this sign, all riders must mount and remain mounted until they cross the finish line, maintaining forward motion at all times.

At the end of the ride the horse's heart rate is counted immediately on arrival and again up to 30 minutes later. Time penalty points are awarded for being earlier or later than the set time (two points per minute early, one point per minute late). Other penalty points may be incurred for horse handling faults or rule infringements. The rider's score is the sum of the two heart rates plus any penalty points collected. The lowest score wins.

Non members may only ride in the Novice or Novice Junior classes. Current financial WATRC members are able to enter any class as long as they meet other entry criteria (horse age/qualification). Riders up to 18 yrs may ride as Juniors. Open class riders ride the longest course at the fastest pace. Other classes ride at a slower pace, often over a shorter course.

Competition is intense at the advanced level and serious riders train hard between events to maintain their horses and themselves at a high level of fitness. But the aim on the day is to arrive at the end with a horse who could take a half hour rest and then do the whole course again. Experienced and inexperienced riders can ride together and take turns at leading and opening gates, without compromising anyone's prospect of a good score at the end of the day.

Wellington Area Rides

About twelve rides are held in a season in the Wellington area on farm and forest tracks ranging from Belmont in the South to Bulls in the North, Wainuiomata in the East to Titahi Bay in the West. They are usually held on Sundays, from late September through early April.

Some Wellington riders also travel to rides organised by clubs in the Wairarapa and Ruahine.

Outline of Events on Ride Day

Before you arrive Complete an entry form - it really speeds things up at the entries table if you bring your entry already completed.

At the Entries Table Sign in, pay, get your bib and competitor card. Note your start time. Synchronise your watch with the official clock. Ride rules are posted.

Ride Briefing Usually half an hour before first rider out. If you miss the briefing, check with the entries table or the start marshal.

Pre-Ride Vetting Present your horse in halter or bridle only, hooves picked. Horses must be well behaved. Wear your bib. The vet writer will mark your card.

Groom & Tack Up Prepare for riding out. A safety check is mandatory. Report to the start area 10 minutes before riding out. This is done at the same time as Groom and Turnout.

Groom & Turnout This is optional. Report to the start area 10 minutes before riding out. This is done at the same time as the safety check.

Ride Out Upon the instruction of the start marshal.

On the Trail

Follow trail markings, not other riders - if they make a course error, you will too.
Report to stewards at any check points.
Keep moving forward at all times, do not stop to rest.
You are permitted toilet stops and watering stops for your horse or to wait for a ride partner to remount after a gate.
Safety comes first at all times, and if you must wait on a rider in difficulties, that is acceptable.
When riding through stock try not to disturb them.
Except in the designated "control area" prior to the finish line, you are permitted to dismount and lead your horse.
Leave gates as you find them, but if leaving a gate open for a following rider make certain they know they must close it after them. 
Once in the "control area" you must remain mounted until you cross the finish line.

Your Bib Number Must be visible at all times on the ride. Don't wear a coat over it.

To Pass Slower Riders Call out ahead as you come up behind them.

Move Aside As soon as you can for faster riders who wish to pass you.

At the Finish Be ready immediately for your horse's heart rate to be counted. Have your card ready for the timekeeper to write in your final vet time. If a vet is not available, stay mounted, remain close to the finish area, and keep your horse moving at the same speed as when you finished, until called.

Un Tack Cool and calm your horse. You should offer it a drink of water.

After-Ride Care You are responsible for attending to your horse and assisting its recovery.

Final Vet Check Return to the vetting area in good time - the penalty for lateness is elimination. Present your horse in halter or bridle only. Your horse's heart rate must fall to 60 beats per minute or less. The vet's writer will keep your card.

Prize Giving After scores are tallied, ribbons will be awarded in the various classes, completion certificates will be issued and competitor cards returned.

Disappointments Sometimes you get lost, or your horse may go lame or be vetted out. Most experienced competitors have suffered the same so will be sympathetic. The ground help are volunteers who may have given up their ride to officiate at yours, so remember this, and that times like these show your character!

Volunteers Like most amateur sporting bodies, WATRC relies on volunteers to manage the club, organise ride venues, officiate on the day, and generally ensure that everyone is safe and has a good time. People volunteer for many reasons, but whatever the reasons they do volunteer, they don't volunteer to be abused, insulted, or railed at.
If you think things could be done better in any way, your constructive criticism is always welcome, and your volunteered time and energy even more so. To misquote JFK, ask not what your club can do for you, ask what you can do for your club.


At all times the welfare of the horse is paramount.

Excessive pressing of a tired horse may incur disqualification. At all times a good standard of sportsmanship and fairness will be required.

Must Know

A Red Ribbon tied in a horse's tail means that it is known to kick. Owners of such horses are asked to keep their horse well clear of others, and others are asked to give such horses a wide berth.

Stallions should be marked with a blue ribbon tied in their tails and must be yarded at all times. The club should be advised in advance if colts or stallions are going to be at a ride. Juniors are not allowed to be in charge of colts or stallions.

No Dogs No dogs are allowed on the farms we ride over. We can lose our privilege of access over this. On some farms dogs are not even allowed to be in your car. These include Battle Hill and Pikarere.

No smoking If you must smoke please do it in your car and use the ashtray.

Quiet around the vet's area While the vet is taking heart rates, listening through the stethoscope is difficult, especially in windy conditions. Talking around the vet ring makes the vet's job even more difficult.

The welfare of the horse is paramount. Arriving back late is better than arriving back horseless! If your horse is becoming overworked, slow down, and if necessary dismount and lead your horse.

Advantages of WATRC Membership

  • Reduction in entry fees
  • Newsletter with directions to rides and publication of results.
  • Eligibility to hold club trophies for winning rides or seasonal awards such as Most Improved Rider, and Fittest Horse.

Our motto in competitive trail riding is TO COMPLETE IS TO WIN. Participation improves both horse and rider and gives the satisfaction which comes from striving.

What Equipment To Bring On Ride Day

Warm clothing, jacket and gloves.

Refreshments A BBQ is run, but an electrolyte drink is a good idea if it is hot or you are riding longer distances.

String cord to attach your jacket to your saddle when riding.

A cover for your horse after the ride.

Buckets for drinking and washing water.

Grooming and washing gear - include old towels.

The Club's rides are governed by firm rules which are designed to ensure the safety and well being of horses and riders. Helmets must be worn and shoes with heels (or safety stirrups). Horses and their feet must be in good condition, gear must be in a safe and sound condition. Otherwise there is no dress code, riders are expected to dress sensibly for the conditions which as we all know in Wellington can vary considerably.

WATRC Competitive Ride Fees


Club Ride Entry Fees

Member Non-Member
Adult $25* Adult $30*
Junior $20 Junior $30*

These fees are indicative only and subject to change without notice. Ride fees may vary depending on the event or venue or other factors.
* Ride fees for Adults and non-members were increased by majority vote at AGM June 2014 (see minutes in Newsletter 167)

In general the style is relaxed and informal, the rides are supposed to be enjoyable as well as safe. Newcomers are always welcome and an effort is made to make them feel so.

The Club publishes a newsletter with information about coming rides and social events, results from previous rides, buy/sell/swap notices and other information which might be interesting or entertaining. Please use our Contacts page if you are interested in finding out more about the club, or receiving the newsletter, or simply coming along to the occasional ride. We welcome and encourage new members and supporters.