HORSEPLAY: Treasure hunts on horseback provide fun for all riders

A TREASURE HUNT on a horseback ride through the woods – isn’t that cool? The Competitive Mounted Orienteering (CMO) organization is just that – a mounted scavenger hunt. And last weekend, a competition was held in our part of the country at the Layton Hill Horse Camp in Sequim.

The ride was organized by Craig and Wendy Brundle. Normally the Agnew couple have to leave the peninsula to compete, but for the past three years they have sponsored rides in Sequim.

So far, the majority of competitors come from areas off the peninsula. Their hope is that more local runners will get involved as well.

“It really is a fun time for the whole family,” Wendy said.

There is no age limit on who can compete. If you can ride, read a map, and use a map reading compass, then you can have fun. While serious competitors are there to complete the hunt as soon as possible, many simply enjoy learning new trails and participating in the treasure hunt.

Each event is divided into divisions of long (10 objectives) and short (five objectives) courses. Typical trips can cover 5 to 25 miles. Runners accumulate points for annual awards and ribbons are awarded with each run up to sixth place on the long course and third place on the short course.

The object of the sport is to ride as an individual or as a team on a prescribed course, find as many hidden objective stations as possible, and return in the shortest amount of time, either on a 10-station long run or on five. – short course of the resort.

The long course can range from around 8 miles to 25 miles. The terrain depends on the area chosen by the ride manager – but CMO rides take place all over the country, from the high forests of the state to the rolling hills of Indiana.

At Layton Hill, the map included trails and logging roads on adjacent MNR lands.

Each day before the 10 a.m. start time, new riders received a practice session with instructors to learn what to look for on the track and how to use the compass. Only one type is allowed, an orientation or terrain compass for map reading.

“You can’t use the compass on your phone or anything,” said Wendy, who is also the administrator of the Olympic Peninsula Riders Facebook page, a meeting place for local riders to meet and enjoy rides. together with general display of equestrian events and riding advice.

When I spoke to her on Saturday morning, the first day of competition, she expressed her disappointment that there were no local riders participating that weekend. Later, I found out that the Duerr family had arrived from Port Angeles for Sunday’s competition.

Tanya Hull Duerr, who rides with husband Charlie, son Levi and friend Mikael Hatch, said of her first experience: “It’s been so much fun! It’s like geocaching and treasure hunting all in one! You get three clues for each plate and a map with the locations of each plate. Then use your clues, the map and the compass to find the exact location of the plates that are hidden. It was awesome.

So far they have been the only local riders to compete in the Sequim event. All the other runners came from “across the water”, namely towns like Spanaway, Puyallup and Hoquiam.

Wendy said most runners she spoke with locally were hesitant after hearing a compass was being used to read the map and look for clues. She plans to hold a few map and compass clinics to attract more runners for next year’s event.

Each day after the race, a memorable potluck dinner took place where runners relaxed and swapped stories.

CMO event

Competitive Mounted Orienteering (CMO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to being a safe, inexpensive, and fun equestrian activity for all riders. Organized in a way to encourage competition between those looking for a competitive event and to encourage relaxed, family riding for those who want a less challenging event.

Competitors can ride alone or as a team.

The event organizers provide maps and course plans. Participants use their own horses and bring their own compass. The tools used are a compass, a map with clues and a pen.

The map reading or orienteering compass is laid on top of a map to determine the direction of an area or location. In CMO, the numbers on the dial and the arrows on the compass are used to take measurements from each landmark to help locate each station.

Using these tools, runners search for designated “goal stations” (paper plates with an individual code written on each) inside a ¾ mile circled area on the map of the event. Clues for each station are listed on the back of the map, with intersecting compass bearings pointing to the hidden plate.

A single horse and rider, or teams of two to six horses and riders, are timed according to how long it takes them to find all of the hidden plates and return to the starting point. The goal is to find all the hidden plates and register the letters on the plates as soon as possible.

Passengers travel at their own pace and determine which stations to find, in any order.

Start times are staggered between groups and individual competitors in the hope that neither will see each other on the track as they search for “treasure” or objective stations. The map and the clues are given to each runner on the starting line.

For those new to the sport, ride organizers provide plenty of instruction at events, including a pre-ride meeting and a training goal station.

New competitors can often team up with more experienced CMO pilots to help them learn the ropes.

The cost of equipment is also minimal. An orienteering compass can be purchased at most sporting goods stores for around $10 to $20.

Transportation costs are kept low to encourage participation.

Ride managers offer small but helpful ribbons or prizes, and most CMOs offer overnight camping with a potluck dinner and campfire as part of the fun.

Those with the most points for the day in each division (group or single rider, long or short course) are awarded ribbons. Those with the most points at the end of the season are rewarded.

Events are held out of horse camps and DNR riding areas statewide and nationwide.

Spring and summer hikes take place on Saturday and Sunday with a potluck dinner and campfire on Saturday evening to hand out ribbons, visit and laugh at strategies that worked and didn’t work.

You can try it out as a day member for $5 (insurance fee) plus the regular member ride fee (about $15) per day. Annual dues are $40 (families) or $25 (individual) plus $5 for state dues.

Having national and state membership qualifies each rider and their horse for lifetime rewards. All races and disciplines are welcome.

To join CMO, simply show up to attend a ride in your area. There is no obligation to pre-register online, although you can do so as well. The ride manager will help you with the application form and your membership is valid immediately.

For more information on CMOs, visit

fall sale

On Saturday, October 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Olympic Peninsula Equine Network (OPEN) is hosting its Fall Equipment Sale to help fund this local horse rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming organization just off Hooker Road at 251 Roupe Road in Sequim.

Shop at the on-site tack room or at one of the individual kiosks.

Do you have equipment, artwork or crafts to sell? Space rentals are only $20 for the day.

Come see the horses that OPEN has up for adoption, then shop for winter blankets and other supplies. Discounts for young riders, 4-H and FFA members.

For questions or to reserve a space, leave a message at 360-207-1688 or by e-mail [email protected]

Horse veterinarians

BCH Buckhorn Range Chapter member Helen Shewman shared with me an insightful article from about equine veterinary care, the looming crisis in equine health care, and how we horse owners can help.

It’s no secret that the supply of doctors for humans is rapidly shrinking, but do you know that there is also a crisis looming due to the lack of equine vets?

“Apparently vets are treated really badly in all practices, not just horses. We should appreciate all of our caretakers, animals and humans,” Shewman said.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.

If you would like to list an equestrian event, clinic or seminar, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call him at 360-460-6299.

The type of compass used for the CMO is an orientation or map reading compass.

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