WORK­ING EQUITATION, EX­PLAINED

Horse & Rider - - Saddle Strong -

WE presents classes at var­i­ous lev­els, in­clud­ing chil­dren’s, in­tro­duc­tory (walk/trot), novice, in­ter­me­di­ate, ad­vanced, and masters. As riders progress through the lev­els, they must demon­strate ever-in­creas­ing skill in rid­ing from the legs and seat, tran­si­tion­ing smoothly be­tween gaits, bal­anc­ing while rid­ing cir­cles of var­i­ous sizes, and per­form­ing lat­eral move­ments. Though fly­ing lead changes aren’t re­quired at the lowest lev­els, at the higher lev­els, “work­ing equitation is all about can­ter­ing and turn­ing and chang­ing leads,” says Rob Zimmerman of South Ridge Farms in Ridge­field, Wash­ing­ton, host to clin­ics of the noted Pe­dro Tor­res Academy of Work­ing Equitation. “You’ll see col­lected can­ters, with up­right car­riage. It’s not so dif­fer­ent from what we think of as a fin­ished bri­dle horse—one that you ride with light con­tact while us­ing your seat and legs. Soft­ness and light­ness are key.” The four phases that com­prise WE are: • Dres­sage Trial. As in tra­di­tional and West­ern dres­sage, en­tries ex­e­cute a set pat­tern. Judg­ing cri­te­ria in­clude qual­ity of move­ment (es­pe­cially en­gage­ment of the hindquar­ters), the horse’s will­ing­ness, and the rider’s equitation. • Ease-of-Han­dling Trial. As in a tra­di­tional trail class, en­tries nav­i­gate from eight to 15 ob­sta­cles, de­pend­ing on the level. De­signed to sim­u­late the tasks re­quired on work­ing ranches around the world, ob­sta­cles may in­clude such fa­mil­iar items as a gate, bridge, and L back-up, as well as more es­o­teric ones, such as plac­ing a pole in a drum, skew­er­ing a ring with a pole, and mov­ing an earth­en­ware jug. • Speed Trial. Thrilling to watch, this timed phase re­quires en­tries to nav­i­gate a course of ob­sta­cles while demon­strat­ing both speed and ac­cu­racy. It’s re­quired at all lev­els ex­cept chil­dren’s and in­tro­duc­tory. • Cow Trial. As in team pen­ning, en­tries must work in com­bi­na­tion to sort and pen a cow. To make WE com­pe­ti­tions eas­ier to present and avail­able more widely, the cow trial is not yet widely of­fered at events in the U.S. (and it’s never re­quired at the in­tro­duc­tory level).

Com­peti­tors are en­cour­aged to show in the tra­di­tional gear of the rider’s coun­try and/or of the type of horse rid­den.

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