Working Equitation was born as a sport in Europe in the early 1990s. The four founding countries of Working Equitation (WE) are Spain, Portugal, France and Italy. It is based on the cattle working traditions of Southern European countries, especially Spain and Portugal. This area, known as the Iberian Peninsula, has thousands of years of history, not to mention infrastructure, built upon the relationships between horses, cattle and men. The goal of the sport is to preserve and perpetuate not only the traditional types of equitation worldwide, but also the cultural traditions of each country and their horses.
Working Equitation is a sport that melds dressage with obstacle course work, effectively applying dressage principles to actual functions, such as opening and closing a gate calmly and smoothly or negotiating a slalom of posts at canter. There are three phases of WE: Dressage, Ease of Handling and Speed. The latter two phases are held over an obstacle course. The dressage tests and judging criteria for WE have been developed by WE participants and leaders in the sport, not the USDF or USEF. Classical dressage tenets are emphasized and rewarded. A fourth phase, cattle sorting, is held at team competitions only. There are three recognized types of competitions: schooling, recognized, and championship. Rules and tests for Working Equitation in the US may be found here: http://www.weiausa.com/#!rulesandshows/c6gz. In competition, riders are required to use tack and attire from the same genre (i.e., you cannot wear dressage attire while you horse wears Western tack), and riders are encouraged to depict the historical background of their horse’s breed or the traditions revolving around what the breed has been used for in the past. There is no need to purchase a new fancy turnout, you can use what you probably already own.
The World Association for Working Equitation, found at http://www.wawe-official.com/, is the international governing body for the sport. In the US, WEIUSA, found at http://www.weiausa.com/, is the national governing body for the sport and regulates rated shows. WEIUSA’s mission is to ‘…exist solely for the support and promotion of Working Equitation in the United States, with the expectation that an active WE community in the US will also support the growth of WE worldwide. To this end, we commit to a continued focus on education of current and future competitors, education and licensing of judges, and promoting competitions. We further commit to support the WAWE in its efforts to receive FEI recognition for the sport of Working Equitation. In the United States, this may require the WEIAUSA to work closely with the United States Equestrian Federation, to achieve this goal.’
Central Washington Dressage Society is going to be offering Western Equitation tests at their schooling shows. If you are interested in riding a Western Equitation test at one of our Schooling Shows, please specify the test on your entry form.