ACTHA rumors continue to swirl, website gone

The Amercian Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA), which has been going through financial difficulty for some time but has promised they were back on track and would have rides again this spring, has taken down their website and disconnected their phones.

One member says on Facebook: “According to the buzz on the FaceBook, ACTHA Ride Host Network Group, the website is gone, the people are gone and right up to the last minute they were automatically renewing memberships and taking people’s money for rides that were still on the books, but never going to happen. A class-action suit is possibly coming. An organization that is 8,000 strong would survive if the people in charge had been up front about the problems. Word on the street is that ACTHA tried to sue Equine Trail Sports and lost, costing them a fortune. I don’t know if this is true, but that is gross mismanagement of funds, as members were never told about it, and we thought funds were going to pay the ride hosts and the horse charities. Money, pride, and corruption, once again ruins a very good organization.”

While those rumors are not confirmed, the organization’s Facebook page, which has more than 50,000 “likes,” or people following it, shows post after post of people complaining that their credit cards were being charged for canceled rides and for annual membership fees. Many were also complaining of their inability to get in touch with anyone at the organization.

Another member posts on the ACTHA Facebook page: “Total Scam. They have charged my credit card two times without my authorization. I had a one year membership. I have emailed them and called them. Now their phone is disconnected.

I bet there are more people that they have done this too.”

The website’s disappearance and disconnected phones leave little hope that the organization will be returning to the trails anytime soon.

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Is ACTHA in crisis?


ACTHA runs on the concept of six miles, six obstacles, six judges. Photo by CC.

“Casual competition, serious fun.”

The American Competitive Trail Horse Association has gained great popularity in recent years, attracting all levels and genres of riders to its obstacle course events. It offers arena and trail challenges across the United States, with some of the proceeds from each ride going to local horse charities. The organization also plays up that its events are a great way to give jobs to horses that otherwise might just stand in the pasture, and therefore also give them value.  Legions of people have flocked to this wonderful concept, enjoying their horses and challenging themselves while making new friends along the trail. And plentiful sponsors have flocked to them as well.

But rumors have been swirling about problems at the American Competitive Trail Horse Association.

Hosts are reporting that they haven’t been paid for putting on ACTHA rides. ACTHA staff is reporting that they have been laid off. And riders report that they aren’t receiving year-end awards. In fact, there is a Go Fund Me page set up to help get awards to the riders.

“I am a laid off ACTHA staff member.  ACTHA is in the middle of a major crisis.  Many competitors never received their year end prizes. I have volunteered my services to embroider the State Top Ten sheets and ship to winners, but these need to be shipped to me and then shipped to each individual competitor. Estimate at this time for shipping alone is $1120.

I have the first box of sheets and hope to start shipping them out this week as the embroidery is finished, but as much as I’d like to pay for shipping myself, I can not do so. 

Should we collect more than the amount needed, excess will go from my own account directly to pay for other, as yet unpaid for, awards. 

Please give as your own heart desires.”

ACTHA’s FAQ page on its website seems to allude to the issues.

On ACTHA’s own website, on the FAQ page, in bold lettering it reads “ACTHA LIVES! Details later today (1/20/16).” However, details cannot be found. Efforts to get those details from ACTHA have so far gone unanswered.

The Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, one of ACTHA’s most popular rides in the East, has no ACTHA rides scheduled this year and its rides are scheduled with Equine Trail Sports, which is very similar to the ACTHA model. A search found several other former ACTHA rides that have switched to ETS, and they encourage participants to register with the ACTHA number so that their 2015 points will transfer to ETS. “We will be riding with Equine Trail Sports for the next few rides,” one ride host said of their upcoming events.

ETS confirmed that ACTHA points transfer to their awards system. “Effective 01/01/2016, ACTHA Placement Points earned through 12/31/2015 fully transfer into ETS’s Carrot Award Program.”

However other rides, like with Elite Equestrian Events in Randleman, North Carolina, are moving ahead with their ACTHA rides.

ACTHA’s future does look uncertain. Watch closely to see if they can right the ship.

UPDATE, Feb. 8, 2016: ACTHA ride hosts are reporting that all rides scheduled last weekend (Feb. 6-7), across the U.S., were canceled due to the organization’s lack of liability insurance.