What is Working Equitation?
Combine dressage in all its classical grace and a fun obstacle course, and you have Working Equitation. This budding sport has individual and team categories, and involves different challenges to the horses. But there is more than meets the eye. It was cattle-handling and ranch work - and everything it involves - that inspired this discipline.
About the Sport
The individual games have three phases: working dressage, ease of handling, and speed. While the first phase is familiar to many, the fun is in the obstacle courses. Through it, horse and rider face different obstacles such as bridges and fences, among others. These obstacles represent the challenges one might encounter in real-life ranch situations. The speed phase is a timed version of the ease of handling phase. The team competition also includes a cow trial, where the team works together to separate cattle. Each team has four riders.
But the appeal with working equitation isn’t just the events themselves. Part of it is the presence of traditional styles of riding. In Europe, it isn’t unusual to see people competing in traditional attire and tack. This is the main appeal of this discipline: a celebration of different styles and traditions, across different countries. More than just a sport, it also brings to fore the cultural aspects of riding traditions, both for comparison and preservation.
Started in 1996, the first competitions happened in Europe, specifically France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. These countries each have a strong equitation tradition, but it soon spread to South American countries. It hit the United States in 2008 when the United States Working Equitation Association was founded.
Because it’s a relatively new sport, the rules around Working Equitation are fairly new as well. As the sport of Working Equitation grows in popularity, we’ll see more news about it. The first international championship happened in 2002, with its fourth edition in 2014. As time passes, we can expect more horses to compete, more national organizations and more competitions, from more countries.
Make sure to check our Event page for the next clinic to audit or participate!
"I started dressage training with Marion in early 2007. I had been a hard working dressage rider for almost a decade. I was showing at first level but wasn’t able to progress any further. Marion immediately diagnosed my problem…I was too tense!! I was clamping with my knees and my body was giving the horse the message to stop not to go. Marion spent a lot of time working with me to relax. Once I relaxed, the horse would move willingly forward. She had me ride horses that were schooled in the upper level movements, which helped me to understand the aids. I never thought I could do canter pirouettes, passage and piaffe.
Marion assisted me in importing a young talented Andalusian from Mexico. Many trainers don’t allow the owner to ride a young horse until he is educated. Marion had me ride my horse right from the beginning. She did this in a safe controlled environment that allowed me to be part of the process. This has been a wonderful experience and a great confidence builder."
Margaret Stonich, 2011