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. Working Equitation became a competitive sport in 1996 along with the first European championship being held in Italy the same year.
Working Equitation is recognised as a sport in many countries and all countries have their own governing body. WE tests the horse and rider’s partnership and ability over a range of obstacles, it is judges on technique as well as being timed. The four different levels Novice, Intermediate, Junior and Advanced. At advanced level, the rider must ride with just one hand.
Competition events may be individual or for teams, and are in 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 time scale.
- Ease of Handling Trial, in which horses must overcome 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 overcome, but against time
- Cow (only for team competitions), in which the four team members separate a specific numbered cow from a group.