Sunday, November 24, 2013

Working Equitation

I decided to do a post about Working Equitation. I have been intrigued since I first came across the discipline and decided to do some research on this riding style. It is the only riding style I am interested in learning, primarily because it combines four things that I think Ashke and I would excel at. It is open to any rider and any type of horse.

This form of riding started in Spain, Portugal, France and Italy. It is based on the activities that a horse would be expected to encounter during fieldwork. Each country started with it's own rules and costumes, so there are slightly different aspects between countries, but the core of WE is determined by the International WE. The discipline was recently recognized by the FEI, but is still pretty new in the US. The National organization for each country determines the rules for that country, but the international rules are the same for every one.

There is a National level WE organization called the WEUSA. They are the ones that determine the protocol for the US. According to the WEUSA website:

Due to the differences in livestock, climate, and cultures, many different  styles of tack, attire and animal handling were specialized throughout the USA. WEUSA embraces our equestrian cultural melting pot and allows traditional as well as modern working tack and attire.  WEUSA also recognizes the horses, tack, and attire of other nations that participate in working equitation. 

The WEUSA rules were created for our country's riders along with Internationally accepted rules and imput from the World Association of Working Equitation.  Many different tack and attire options are available to WEUSA riders due to the wide range of field and cattle working horses in our country.  From the Cracker cattlemen of Florida in their McClellan saddles and bull whips, to the field and plantation horses of the deep south, to the cowpoke who used a long pole to help load the cattle onto rail cars, to the Vaquero of the southwest, to the buckaroo of California, to the Hawaiian Paniolo, WEUSA celebrates them all!

Each WE competition has four parts: Dressage, Ease of Handling, Speed Phase and Livestock penning. I'm going to use videos to show how it is done in other countries: (International rules)

WE dressage is done in a 20m by 40m ring and at the highest level is ridden with the left hand.

The second part of WE is the Ease of Handling phase. This phase is based on how well the horse does through a series of obstacles. Again, ridden with the left hand at the International level.

The third part is the Speed Phase, where the rider races through the obstacles from the Ease of Handling phase as quickly as they can.

The final phase of WE is the livestock trial. This is a team event.

Ashke thinks cattle are from the devil, so teaching him how to do the cattle trial should be vastly amusing. And finding three other "Team" members to play with us might be even more fun.

Because this discipline is just starting in the US, there are few opportunities for shows, but that's okay, since we aren't ready to show yet. I have looked at the WE group for Colorado and it looks like they did a Fun Day last year, where they worked with riders on the Ease of Handling phase. However, it doesn't look like they actually have a show. The National WE organization does an online or virtual competition. You can only enter for the Dressage and Ease of Handling phases by submitting a video of the dressage test and the EOH test. It looks like they did two or three virtual competitions last year.

IF we decided to enter one of the competitions next year, we would probably start at the Walk-Trot level. You ride the dressage test while being video taped, which cannot be edited. At the end of the dressage video, they have you video your equipment to show that you are using what they require. You submit one video for the dressage test and one video for the EOH test. (J is already willing to build obstacles.) Maybe, if I can get connected to the WE Colorado chapter, we can do something at our barn!

The EOH test would be:

Walk Trot – BlUE
1.       Jug
2.       Lance Pick Up
3.       Lance Return
4.       Single Pole Slalom
5.       Corridor with Bell
6.       Varied Footing

The dressage test looks like this:
Purpose in Dressage:
To introduce the beginner rider or the new working equitation rider to Working Equitation competition in an inviting and educational atmosphere. To be ridden in a snaffle, Pelham, or curb using two hands on the reins. Any horse under 60 months of age must be ridden in a snaffle. Rider may carry a whip in Dressage Phase. Spurs allowed. Transitions into and out of the halt may be made through the walk. While the horse does not have to be on the bit or round in the top line, the horse would show acceptance of the connection from the leg to the elastic hand without undue resistance. The walk and trot should be energetic and ground covering but without losing balance.

A             Enter Working Trot             Straightness of the Center Line
X            Halt, Salute                          Obedience, Relaxation, and Balance of the Halt.
X            Proceed Working Trot          Straightness of Transition and desire to move
                                                            forward into the trot.

C            Track right                           Correctness of Balance and Bend through the
M-E            Change Rein                   Straightness and accuracy of the rein change.
                                                            Energy and tracking up in trot.

E            Circle Left 20m                   Correct bending.  Energy and tracking up in the trot.
                                                            Accuracy of the circle

            Proceed Working Trot            Straightness on long side. Correct bend and balance
                                                            in the corners. Energy and tracking up in the trot.
F-E            Change Rein                     Straightness and accuracy of the rein change.
                                                            Energy and tracking up in trot.

E            Circle Right 20m                Correct bending. Energy and tracking up in the trot.
                                                            Accuracy of the circle.

E-H            Proceed Working Trot     Straightness on the long side. Correct bend and
                                                            balance in the corners. Energy and tracking up in trot.

C            Working Walk         Obedience and acceptance of the aids into the energetic
Free Walk on a Loose Rein   Straightness, Swing, Relaxation and Ground Cover of the Walk.
K            Working Walk       Relaxation and Acceptance of the Aids in the Transition to
                                                Working Walk.

A            Walk Down Center Line            Straightness of the Center Line

X            Halt, Salute                        Obedience, Relaxation, and Balance of the Halt

I think it's doable. I plan on printing this out and giving it to Cassandra, so she knows what I should be working on. Novice level
requires cantering and I'm not ready for that yet. Of course, I don't know when the virtual competition is going to be and maybe
we will be cantering by then. However, I think it would be best to start at the Walk-Trot level, especially since I've never done
something like this before.

Doesn't it sound like fun, though?


  1. I love WE! I wish we had it in MD; it had just arrived in FL when we moved. I didn't know about the livestock trial, but it makes sense, as this is a test of a horse's ability at being a TRUE all-arounder!

    I drool every time I see Oxidado (the gray Lusitano stallion in the first video, for those who don't know who he is). That horse is seriously amazing. I once looked up his stud fee for shits and giggles. It's 1250 euros. That's $1693. I think I'd prefer an Oxidado baby any day to a Totilas baby!

    1. It really is a good thing I don't have a mare, because I know I would be scheming to breed her. I really like the Lusitano breed, the Andalusian breed and the Arabian. All are short bodied and short crouped and perfect for this type of riding. And I agree that I would much rather have an Oxidado baby than a Totilas.