IMTCA - International Mountain Trail Challenge Association

IMTCA Canada Logo

International Mountain Trail Challenge Association or IMTCA The International Mountain Trail Challenge Association or IMTCA is an organization that promotes the ideal trail horse where a rider of any skill level can enjoy riding in a safe manner. IMTCA will oversee standards of judging rules, obstacle and course standards, registration of horses, licensing of horses for competition, member services, updating rules and services as identified, and promote great horsemanship.

IMTCA is an organization that has the ideal training and aids in bringing out the best in the horse and rider. When possible, we encourage the use of natural obstacles in training and shows. We encourage man made obstacles to be constructed in such a manner as to protect the safety of the horse and rider. IMTCA will use this new sport as a way to build the horse and rider into a partnership that exemplifies great horsemanship where the most difficult mountain trail can be navigated in a safe manner. We want this sport to showcase the ideal Mountain Trail horse, and where a rider of any skill level can enjoy trail riding in a safe manner. As this sport grows across the globe it is necessary that clear, consistent and unified judging rules apply in all venues. It is a major function of the IMTCA to compile and continually update the rules as needed. We wish to insure that the rules cover form to function, and serve as a practical learning tool for use on the real mountain trail. IMTCA will do everything to encourage proper “trail attire” for participants in Challenges and shows.

A Mountain Trail horse may be any breed or species of equine, from mini to draft, donkeys, mules, other hybrids, are all encouraged to participate in IMTCA. 

What to expect at a Challenge

A competitive event for Mountain Trail and Extreme Mountain Trail is known as a challenge. A challenge tests 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. There will be up to three levels of difficulty that are designed to challenge but not intimidate riders. Attire and tack required for participating must be neat, clean and in good working order.

The overall purpose of the Trail Challenge is to promote good horsemanship skills and provide an educational venue for equestrians. Trail Challenge tests an equine and rider on their ability to work as a team and navigate obstacles which they might experience on a trail.

The horse and rider will encounter various obstacles during a Trail Challenge. Sometimes they will encounter difficult trail situations which will better prepare the equine and rider in the real world. Through education and experience, riding becomes more pleasurable, while safety and fun are encouraged.


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

The IMTCA Judging System is recognized as the leading format for judging an equine event that combines technical and stylistic elements coupled with consideration of "degree of difficulty."

Mountain Trail and Extreme Trail have flourished and expanded over the years in the USA, Canada and Europe. Challenges and events are now held in all of these locations. 

The IMTCA Executive Committee will be aligned with other worldwide equine associations to accomplish common goals and to continue to expand the sport of Mountain Trail and Extreme Trail into the international arena.


All challenges must be judged by IMTCA certificated judges. A judge must have the ability to evaluate horsemanship skills such a rider’s skill in controlling and maintaining the equine. The judge should be also familiar with the natural movement of the equine.

Download IMTCA Rule Book

Download IMTCA Judges Reference Guide

Download Equipement Not Allowed Examples

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