Monty Roberts Adds a Mark Bolender Mountain Trail Course to His Training Center at Flag Is Up Farms

Trail riders and their horses on a mountain trail.
Trail riders and their horses on a mountain trail. Forest Service Northern Region

Newsdate: Friday, April 1, 2022 - 11:35 am
Location: SOLVANG, California

Monty Roberts watched as ten horses and their trainers maneuvered over obstacles made of tons of wood, rock, water and gravel. Over 40,000 pounds of obstacles were shipped from Silver Creek, Washington to Solvang, California to be placed inside the infield of Monty’s famous racetrack.

Monty Roberts with two mustangs he has been gentling.

Monty Roberts with two mustangs he has been gentling

The list of obstacles on Roberts' Mountain Trail course is impressive in that this two acre horse course mimics a natural mountain trail.
© 2020 by Monty and Pat Roberts New window.

The placing of the obstacles was done after several days of monster machines sculpting the sandy loam into a mountain top visage./p>

When asked why Roberts had engaged Mark Bolender to design and build this course, Roberts was philosophical.

“Though I’ve won 11 world championships in the saddle, I’ve spent way more years on the ground working with behavioral issues. If in-hand became a more important feature of the early training, I would have had better horses, and better luck  - there is no question about that.”

Roberts watched the trainers and horses start on the Mountain Trail Course in-hand as they figured out how to approach and partner to accomplish the challenge of the obstacle, each one more difficult than the last. The in-hand portion of the session became obviously important to the process of learning before each trainer mounted their horses and went through the Course again.

Mark Bolender designs his trail courses to be a training program for the discipline of competitive trail. That’s in contrast to other courses which are arranged so that the training is tailored to the course itself. Mark designs his trails to meet the needs of the horse and rider of any skill level in these sports.

At any one time you will see both amateurs and professionals training on Monty’s course that boasts over 20 obstacles, each with 3 different skill levels that make for endless training potential.

Bolender has won three world championships in the Competitive Trail division and also owns a construction company. He worked his way through college as an artist and these combined skills have created the very best in the business for a Mountain Trail course.

The list of obstacles is impressive in this just over two acre course that mimics a natural mountain trail:

28’ x 4’ Swinging Bridge, 24’ x 4’ Wooden Trestle Bridge, 4’ x 16’ Teeter Totter, 24’ Texas Two Step, three balance beams 16’ -24’ long, 4’ x 8’ squirting water box, 18’ x 18’ cross buck, 4’ x 16’ rolling bridge, two turnaround boxes, a maze, a tall back through, a gate and an assortment of rock scatters, log step-overs and more.

Monty’s California Horse Center is in the middle of his Flag Is Up Farms and is surrounded by graceful deodar cedar trees also known as Himalayan cedar, a species with an aromatic oil that naturally deters insects.

Roberts built the farm in 1966 and it is a destination spot for visitors from all over the world, coming to see how this progressive visionary trains, cares for and stables his horses.

Mark and Lee Bolender founded the International Mountain Trail Challenge Association (IMTCA), an international equestrian sport open to horses and riders of all skill levels. Both Western Saddles and English Saddles are welcome, or any other saddle for that matter.

IMTCA uses trail as a way to build a partnership that exemplifies great horsemanship whereby the most difficult obstacle can be navigated safely, making this training tool practical for use on the real mountain trail.

Monty Roberts will host Mark and his famous Breyer Horse Checkers in June in Solvang, California for a two day clinic. For more information about the clinic or the course at Monty’s ranch, write to

Press release by Debbie Loucks

About the Author

Press Release

Author picture

This news article is a press release received by the organization or person noted above. Press releases from recognized horse health companies and individuals are frequently posted on EquiMed as a service to our visitors. Please contact the author of the press release directly for additional information.