“It was an honor to meet the Roberts family and to design and build an International Mountain Trail Challenge Association (IMTCA) mountain trail course for them,” shares Lee Bolender, Mark Bolender’s wife and co-founder of IMTCA. “The course is beautiful and we cannot wait to go back for clinics and IMTCA challenges.”
The nation’s leading horse expert in Mountain Trail, Mark Bolender is a three-time National Champion in the exhilarating sport of Mountain Trail, that combines the thrill of natural obstacles found on wilderness trails with top-notch horsemanship skills.
Mountain Trail Course Comes to Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang
“We set out to create a better way to help horses become more engaged with us and to develop our Monty Roberts Mustang & Transition Horse Program for horses needing new homes through adoption. Mark Bolender’s methods and incredibly safe and beautiful obstacles stood out as the best option. Then, when I learned he had won three world’s championships after age 40, I was inspired,” Debbie Roberts Loucks, Monty’s daughter shared how she came to the decision. IMTCA mountain trail obstacles are engineered to be safe for equines of all sizes and durable, to last many seasons of use. Mark Bolender designed each obstacle himself, using his steel manufacturing background to ensure each obstacle was not only well-made, but are safe for horse and human.
“I’ve seen a lot of unsafe trail obstacles,” shares Mark Bolender. “We want to do it right from the start and make sure we had sturdy constructions that would withstand a 1,000-pound plus horse and its rider.”
Horses and Riders Experience the Mountain Trail Course
Monty Roberts watched as over two acres of his farm became transformed in just five days. The sixth day, Mark and Lee Bolender taught a ‘Train the Trainers’ clinic for 10 trainers. The course will be open to riders outside of a clinic, but all must be trained on the course through a clinic first.
“Mark has convinced me more than ever that in-hand work prior to ridden work is critical to build trust in your equine partner. I watched today as every horse and every handler were challenged and then celebrated as they met the challenge of each obstacle,” Monty was pleased to share with the group.
Upcoming Mountain Trail Course Clinic with Mark Bolender
Lee and Mark Bolender at Flag Is Up Farm
Bolender will be also be teaching with his wife Lee and Sir Rugged Chex, known as Checkers, who was given the honor of becoming the first mountain trail horse to be turned into a Breyer Model Horse in 2020. Mark and Checkers will be demonstrating their championship form – bridleless – on Monty’s newly built Mountain Trail at The Movement June 17-19 as well. Attendance fee for The Movement is $495 per person for two days with lunch included, as well as a live concert, VIP bags and many other amenities.
Meet Mark and Lee Bolender, Founders of the International Mountain Trail Course Association
The Bolenders have traveled all over the world creating courses in many countries, including Canada, Australia, Denmark and Italy. Courses created by them come with the full support of the IMTCA for creating, planning and hosting IMTCA approved events and clinics. This includes access to CAD drawings of their IMTCA courses for class patterning. IMTCA parks bring in money through play days, lessons, training, clinics, schooling challenges, regional qualifiers and a true World High Point program. All this allows mountain trail competitors to compete against each other across the globe through their in-person challenge scores.