The Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Association (ECTRA) was founded in 1970 and is a non-profit organization vitally interested in encouraging the growth and understanding of distance riding and driving. Our goal is achieved through rider education and sanctioning standardized, veterinarian judged competitions throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.
ECTRA’s founding principle that any competitive horse should have an equal chance when competing with any other competitive horse, regardless of age, sex or breed in a competitive ride or drive.
ECTRA strives to provide a rewarding way for horse people to increase their knowledge in the care and use of trail horses through its sanctioned ride events. In addition, ECTRA hopes that the use of the objective judging system will encourage a broad cross section of people to get involved in the sport.
ECTRA has developed a numerical scoring system using both subjective and objective evaluations. Specific limits are evaluated for each horse at the beginning and end of the event. Each horse starts with 100 points and the scoring of the judges determines the horse that has deteriorated the least from the initial exam to the final exam at an event. The exams by the vet and lay judge take in multiple categories including the tack and harness area (head, back, chest, tail and hindquarters), the legs, lameness, and both mechanical and metabolic fatigue.
ECTRA judges good, sound, steady and enthusiastic trail horses. The scoring system determines the best conditioned horse, not necessarily the best athlete. It may well occur, and often does, that one horse who is inherently stronger and more athletic than another, may appear superior to the another horse at the end of the event, even though it has actually deteriorated more from its original condition than has the other horse. A sanctioned event ensures consistent judging methods designed to ensure that each horse is evaluated as an individual. If the judging system is properly used, the placing of horses will be unknown until the final awards ceremony.
The use of the numerical scoring system allows the competitor a way of comparing their horses' performance from one event to the next.
ECTRA events are open to all horses, mules or ponies over 11 hands and at least 48 months of age on the day of the event for rides under 29 miles. For events over 28 miles the minimum age is 60 months. Ride distances range from 10 miles (conditioning distance or intro ride) to 100 miles.
The conformation of the horse - as well as riding or driving style – is not judged. Good horsemanship will show at the final judging when the horse is examined in comparison to the start of the event. No special type or breed of horse is required for participation in an ECTRA even, just one that is well-conditioned and enthusiastic for the job at hand.
ECTRA recognizes the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) as the premier endurance ride organization in the United States and will co-sanction rides with AERC. This is why you will see endurance rides on the ECTRA calendar as well as competitive rides/drives.