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"The track cannot be surpassed, being well ploughed, harrowed and rolled, not a stone upon it, and a dead level."

Ad for a Tournament and Ball
Frederick Examiner, Md.
August 12, 1857

A tournament course consists of three arches positioned over a straight track. The official distance is 80 yards. A marker is placed 20 yards before the first arch, where timing begins, and there are 30 yards between each arch. Timing stops as the horse and rider pass through the third arch. Adequate space for starting and stopping the horses is also needed. Usually about 160 yards will be sufficient. When selecting a location, choose level ground, or a slight incline (horses run smoother uphill thanMichael Virts and arches down). Avoid riding into the sun, rocks and dips. The perfect tournament track has yet to be ridden on, so if you even remotely approach good, be satisfied.

This photo shows you the three arches (these are portable ones) and the electronic timers used at most tournaments.  You will also notice that the rider is extending his arm.  Doing so at the end of the ride indicates that the rider did, indeed, capture all three rings for that ride.

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Last updated: November 23, 2018.