Working Equitation is an equestrian discipline and the world regulatory body for this sport is the World Association for Working Equitation (WAWE). The Working Equitation discipline is intended to promote competition between traditional styles of riding used during fieldwork in various countries and also to act as a showcase for traditional riding costumes and equipment. The sport tests the horse and rider’s partnership and ability to maneuver obstacles.
There are four different levels of Working Equitation: Novice, Intermediate, Junior and Advanced. At the advanced level, the rider must ride with only one hand, most commonly his or her left hand, on the reins.
Competition events may be individual or in teams involve three or four parts, in this order:
- Dressage: in which the horse and rider perform obligatory movements in a freestyle dressage test to music within a specified period of time.
- Ease of Handling Trial: and agility-type event in which horses must master obstacles similar to those likely to appear in the field, such as bridges and gates. The obstacle course is designed to show the partnership between horse and rider.
- Speed: where similar obstacles must be mastered, but against time.
- Cow: (only for team competitions) in which four team members separate a specified number of cows from a group.
- #1 Bank Jump
- #2 Bridge
- #3 Cloverleaf
- #4 Corridor Bell
- #5 Double Slalom
- #6 Figure 8
- #7 Gate
- # 8 Jump
- #9 Livestock Pen
- #10 Remove Pole
- #11 Replace Pole
- #12 Side Pass
- #13 Single Slalom
- #14 Skewer the Ring
- # 15 Switch the Cup
- #16 Water Ditch
- #17 Jug
Three barrels are positioned in a triangle with 3 or 4 (depending on level) meters apart, measured from the center of each barrel.
The rider approaches and executes the obstacle in canter. Upon entering between two of the barrels, first a full circle is made to the right around the first drum on the right side, then a circle is made to left around the drum positioned straight in front of the entering point. Lastly a circle to the right is made around the last drum before exiting at the same point as entering. Between the circles a flying change shall be performed at the imaginary line between the drums.
This obstacle can of course be done in the opposite way by starting with a circle to the left around the barrel positioned to the left of the entering point. In a competition, the entering point and direction to take will be indicated in the route map.
The obstacle should be performed maintaining the tempo, pace and balance of the canter, ensuring the circles are equal in size and the changes executed correctly at the right spot. This exercise demonstrates the agility of the horse and the ability to maintain the impulsion and cadence of the canter in narrow turns.
Touching or knocking over a drum will lower the score.
This obstacle consists of low fences forming a 1.20 meter-wide corridor that is either straight or L-shaped with a bell at the end.
The rider will approach the obstacle in canter and either canter all the way up to the bell or make a transition to walk before entering the corridor. At the bell the rider must make a halt and ring the bell, and afterwards rein back the same way out of the corridor.
This too should be executed calmly. The horse must wait in the halt at the end of the corridor and the rein back should be fluid. If the horse touches or knocks over any of the fences or poles it will be penalized in the score.
This obstacle consists of a minimum of 7 two-meter poles. The poles are placed 6 meters apart, similar to the Single Slalom obstacle, but on two parallel lines with 6 meters between the lines. One line consists of 4 poles whilst the other consists of 3. On the line consisting of 4 poles the first pole is placed at distance 0 meters and on the line consisting of 3 poles the first pole is placed at distance 3 meters making the poles stand in a zigzag pattern.
The horse and rider enter the parallel slalom in canter doing a half circle around the first pole in the line with four poles, then crosses to the other line of poles to do a half circle around the first pole in the opposite line, with a change of hand halfway between the poles and so on.
The rider should choose a line that allows for a fluid and continuous movement with the changes placed and executed correctly. Touching or knocking over a pole will be penalized in the score.
The two barrels are positioned 3 meters apart, measured from the center of the barrels. The rider approaches the obstacle in canter, entering between the two barrels. A circle is made around the first barrel, then around the second, making a figure eight, with a change of hand when crossing the imaginary line between the barrels.
This obstacle is performed in canter or/and rein back. The circles should be equal, maintaining the tempo, rhythm and balance of the canter.
Touching or knocking over a drum will lower the score.
The gate is constructed of two poles standing upright at least 2 meters apart with a wooden gate between them that opens and closes with a metal hoop or a rope loop. The wooden gate can be replaced by a rope, which is often done for the Speed trial.
The rider shall canter up to the gate and make the final approach at the walk, positioning the horse alongside the gate. The rider’s free hand should be used to open the gate and, while riding through, the rider should not let go of it at any time. When the horse has passed the gate, the horse may be backed up one or two steps to allow the gate to be closed. When the closing loop is put back in position the obstacle is executed.
The opening and closing of the gate should be done with confidence and fluidity and without any hesitation from either horse or rider.
Normally this obstacle consists of bales of straw with a pole placed over them. This can be as high as 80 centimeters but is often lower.
The jump should be approached straight and calmly with a maintained pace before and after the jump. Touching or knocking down the pole or the bales gives a lower score.
This obstacle consists of a more or less round enclosure with an entrance, containing another enclosure which may host animals such as hens, geese, ducks, piglets, or in some cases it might be empty. This obstacle can be carried out in walk or canter and the course map may describe one lap or two laps, one in each direction, to be made inside the pen.
The rider approaches the pen in canter and either continues in an even, confident canter inside the pen or makes a transition to walk outside the pen and enters in walk. To choose to perform the pen at the walk when it is optional will have a negative effect on the score given. If two laps inside the pen are required, after exiting the pen a change of hand is made followed by a narrow turn or a half pirouette before entering the pen in the opposite direction.
The obstacle should be performed in a calm and confident way without hesitation.
The obstacle consists of a 2.5-3 meter pole, normally called a garrocha or vara, standing in a barrel or container, that should be picked up with the rider’s free hand. At higher levels this is done in canter and it is optional to make a small circle around the drum when picking up the pole, which will give a higher score if executed correctly.
The pole should be picked up with a maintained pace and fluidity and the horse should not react to the rider taking the pole.
This obstacle consists of at least one 4-meter-long pole positioned 5-10 centimeters above the ground. If there are two poles they may be placed parallel next to each other at a distance of 3-4 meters or, at higher levels, the two poles are placed in the shape of an L or even a Z.
The horse shall do a sidepass keeping the pole between the front and hind legs. This should be executed calmly with a maintained fluency. This obstacle is carried out in walk but it can be performed in canter which will give a higher score if carried out correctly.
If the horse touches or knocks down a pole a lower score will be given.
For this obstacle a minimum of 5 two-meter poles should be placed in a straight line with 6 meters between them. They should stand securely but not be fixed to the ground.
The horse and rider enter the slalom at the canter and with each change of direction, there comes a change of hand. The change should be placed halfway between the poles.
The rider should choose a line that allows for a fluid and continuous movement with the changes placed and executed correctly. Touching or knocking over a pole will be penalized in the score at a competition.
At this obstacle the rider will spear a ring with a diameter of 15 centimeters or knock down a ball with the garrocha. To spear a ring is more common and this ring can be placed at various heights, often on top of a silhouette of a bull.
This should be done with relaxation and with a maintained style of riding, also keeping the horse on a straight line with a maintained fluency and pace. Taking the ring or knocking down the ball will give a better score. There may be as many as three rings to collect. Hitting any other part of the obstacle will give a lower score.
This obstacle consists of two lines of poles placed a minimum 3 meters apart, forming a corridor. A cup is placed on top of the last pole.
The rider enters the corridor in canter, halts at the end to pick up the cup, then reins back in a slalom between one line of poles, leaving the cup at the last pole. Here again, fluency in the rein back is important. If the horse touches or knocks down a pole it gives a lower score. If the pole that the cup should be placed on gets knocked down the rider must dismount, put it back up, mount and then continue placing the cup.
This obstacle consists of a square table with a height of 1 meter and a side of 1.25 meters upon which a jug filled with water is placed.
The table is approached in walk or canter, where an approach in canter gives a higher score, and the rider makes a halt at the table, lifting the jug to either drink from it or raise it above his head.
The table should be approached calmly and the horse should stand in a relaxed halt, not reacting to what the rider does.
If the jug does not stand upright when placed down, or if the table is touched or knocked over this will be penalized in the score.