Try It Tuesday: Working Equitation

ease of handlingWorking Equitation, a fairly new horse sport, celebrates the partnership between horse and rider no matter what your preferred discipline.  And the best part is that you don’t need special tack or attire or a particular breed of horse to participate in Working Equitation. You can compete as an individual and/or as a team. There are 4 trials or tests in a Working Equitation competition.  The first three – dressage, ease of handling and speed – are required for both individuals and teams.  The final test – cattle handling – is used in team competition only.

WE dressageDressage is much like traditional dressage tests as is their purpose-to test the horse and rider as well as to service as an aid in training, whether for a dressage horse or a cattle horse. Again, you may show in either English or Western attire and tack, or in the attire and tack  specific to the traditional and documented the country, breed, or discipline. For example, riders must use footwear appropriate for showing in the tradition in which they are dressed. Heeled boots are the norm, although when a specific tradition mandates use of a different type of footwear (such as the Portuguese Ribetejo tradition), this shall be acceptable.  Qualities of impulsion, submission, quality of gaits as well as rider’s position and effective use of aids are all part of the judging. For a sample Novice Dressage Test, click HERE.

WE ease of handlingEase of Handling tests the horse and rider’s ability to traverse a series of obstacles, being scored 1-10 on each one.  The judges look for a smooth, symmetrical performance. As with dressage, submission, impulsion, quality of transitions, etc. are all considered.  A course map must be provided to competitors at least two hours before the start of the trial. In addition, the competitors are allowed to walk the course (on foot with no horses) during the designated course walk for their class. This allows riders to memorize and plan their course prior to riding it.At the Introductory, Novice, and Intermediate levels, riders may complete this trial using two-hands on the reins. At the Advanced and Masters levels, riders must ride one-handed.  For a sample obstacle course, click HERE.

WE SpeedSpeed tests use typically uses the same obstacles from the Ease of Handling test, but rather than being judged on quality and smoothness, the event is timed – the faster the time, the higher the placing.The final time for each horse and rider combination is calculated by taking their actual time on course minus any bonuses, plus any penalties, so accuracy through the obstacles is a must! Knocking over any barrel during the figure-eight between them gets 5 seconds per barrel added to your time.  Want to see how it’s done?  Click HERE.

Cow trails test the ability of horse and rider to work both individually and as a team with cattle.  At this time, most Working Equitation competitions in the United States do not offer the Cow trial. Shows will begin to offer this trial as the sport continues to grow in popularity. The Cow trial takes place in an enclosed rectangle (minimum size of 70 meters by 30 meters). On a team of 3-4 riders, the objective is for each rider to individually sort, cut and herd a predetermined cow from the herd and, as a team, put it in the designated pen.   Each combination has three minutes to cut and herd their selected cow. Combinations who fail to herd their cow to the demarcated pen are disqualified from the trial and receive zero points. The fastest individual overall time (including any time penalties added) is placed highest in the Cow trial.

Working Equitation WE United logoWE United is a member-led, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the sport of Working Equitation throughout the United States of America. They were officially incorporated as a  nonprofit in early February, 2016. They formed:

  • For the integrity of the sport.
  • For the benefit of competitors.
  • For the strength of a united team.

For more information on Working Equitation, upcoming events and rules, click HERE.

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