TETRA’s First ACTHA Ride
by Phyllis & Joe Petronella
Preparing for this two day event has been a yearlong process. Determining the 6 obstacles from the list of ACTHA’s approved obstacles and designing them to be easy for the Scout, Jr, and the Pleasure divisions but them making challenging for the Open division is always a lot of fun. We test ride each obstacle, making sure it is safe and possible to do in the time allotted. The ACTHA season for state and national awards is June 1 to May 31, and choosing a ride date close to their year-end attracts more riders who are competing for the $15,000 in year end prizes. Unfortunately, the weather forecasters prediction that Sunday we would have severe storms in the area limited the number of riders we had that signed up for the event. We had 40 riders on Saturday and 25 on Sunday.
Joe and I competed in 35 ACTHA rides before we approached Bo Whitus, the ex-mayor of the City of Mineola, into hosting ACTHA rides. After several ACTHA rides hosted by the city, we decided to host the rides ourselves through TETRA. Joe and I were thinking that this would be a great opportunity for TETRA and another way to promote TETRA. Tom Scrima, one of the founders of ACTHA sent an email that went across the United States and Canada welcoming TETRA along with our mission statement. He also contacted us to announce that he and his wife Carrie, would be attending the ride on Saturday. We told them that we would be honored if they attended.
We started marking trails at the Preserve on Thursday, and set up the obstacles on Friday and test rode each obstacle. The City of Mineola invited all volunteers and ACTHA riders who were camping that night to super, free of charge.
We had a good attendance on Saturday. Tom and Carrie Scrima arrived that meeting. Pastor Boyd, from City of Mineola Parks Board, attended our ride, and said a prayer to bless our ride. I introduced him to Tom and Carrie, and they posed for a picture.
Our first obstacle was called Mr. Littlejohn’s drag. Oliver Littlejohn is an 87 year old trail rider who took a horseshoe and attached it to a rope, and would lower it and hook it on a tree branch that was blocking the trail, and then drag the branch out of the way. The open riders had to do this obstacle while the pleasure, Jr. and scouts division had to drag a branch already attached to a rope.
Obstacle 2 was the easiest for all divisions. The riders had to ride their horses by a windmill and stop next to a tent and pose to have their picture taken. The Boy Scouts were at the Nature Preserve, and this added more excitement to the obstacle as they had set up next to it. As the riders were standing, posing for their picture, down below the hill the boy scouts were having canoe races in the pond. Some of the scouts had flipped their canoe over and were eating a lot of pond mud. Another troop of scouts were having a kite flying contest. The scouts had their troop flags proudly displayed and the flags were thrashing in the wind. This obstacle turned out to be the hardest. On another obstacle, the open division riders had to back around a BIG hog cage, and the pleasure division walked around it. As the riders approached the obstacle they stopped to tell their story about the boy scouts. One rider came up to me and asked if I could help him. He said that he had searched his obstacle sheet several times but he could not find where the Boy Scouts obstacle was listed. I told him Welcome to the Mineola Nature Preserve.
Buster Green, the caretaker of the Preserve, took Carrie and Tom to visit each obstacle. As they approached the Hog Wild obstacle, Carrie said that it was a BIG hog trap, and that I should have put a real hog in it. I told her two days before the ride the trap had a 200 pound hog in it. They also commented on the boy scouts being another part of the obstacles.
The last obstacle, the riders had to cross a pond, and the open division had to stop in the middle of the pond and drop a hat into the pond and then retrieve it. This was the pond that the Boys Scouts were having the canoe races in. The Scouts were very gracious to stop the races for our riders to perform the obstacle.
This two day event was a lot of fun, and we made a profit. I don’t think we could have made this amount of money by having just another trail ride. All the ACTHA winners loved getting cash as prizes. Our reviews on the ACTHA website are 4.7 out of 5 stars! Tom and Carrie Scrima were impressed by our organizational skills. I can’t believe this but we are thinking about having another ACTHA ride.