Naturally Gaited: Maps, Compasses, and Clues


By Jennifer Klitzke

Among the many new experiences tried this year, my naturally gaited Tennessee walking horse, Makana and I entered our first mounted orienteering event. Only I rode my Spanish Mustang, and I loaned Makana to a friend. The two of us joined another friend and her horse where we teamed together for the National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering (NACMO) event at Crow Hassan Park Preserve. The three of us were sent on our way with maps, compasses, and clues to find six hidden targets.

Our map led us to a general area where we had to decipher two clues with a Halloween theme. Each clue offered compass point readings that intersected with the hidden target. The six targets took us four-and-a-half hours of searching and cantering to our next clue. I got lots of exercise posting the trot between targets as my friend comfortably glided along the way. (Guess who did and didn’t wake up with sore muscles the next day?)

It was a perfect autumn day for an adventurous trail ride. Our team of three newbies returned to take seventh place. We may have been the last team to cross the finish line, but at least we found all of the hidden targets. The teams cheered for us as we rode in. (Likely because they could finally pack up and go home!)

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For more about National Association of Competitive Mounted Orienteering, visit