What Is Working Equitation?
Working Equitation is a fast-growing international sport! It combines Dressage with the physical challenges that might be required for the 'working ranch horse'. Horses and riders are scored on their performance during four phases of competition. It is the ultimate test for a well-trained supple horse. All breeds of horses, rider levels and disciplines of riding can compete in Working Equitation. It is a celebration of many riding cultures around the world.
During the Dressage Phase horses and riders perform tests and are scored on the execution of movements. Much like contemporary dressage the horse is scored on each movement and also on overall collective marks for gaits, impulsion, submission and presentation. In Working Equitation there is less emphasis on big extensions, and more emphasis on adjustability, maneuverability and impulsion.
Ease Of Handling
The Ease of Handling phase tests the rider and horse teams on the execution of obstacles designed to mimic typical challenges encountered in ranch work. This is a chance to show off the horse's talents and skills. Teams are scored on the execution of each obstacle according to the rules, and receive overall points for gaits, impulsion, submission and presentation. Dressage is a very important component to the scoring of this phase, as each obstacle will test the horse's skill level in some way. For example; bend, straightness, transitions and correctness of gait.
The speed phase tests the horse/rider team's tactical skills and obedience on the Ease Of Handling course. Understanding the course, using maneuvers to chose shorter lines, and increasing speed the teams chase the clock. The obstacles must be executed according to the rules, but there is no emphasis on dressage. The horse which completes the course with the best time and does not DQ (disqualify) will have the most points in this phase.
Cattle ~ Team Penning
This phase is the ultimate test of the horse's and rider's skill - the ability maneuver to work cattle. Rider / horse teams work at cattle sorting and penning. This phase is usually only offered at Regional or National level shows.