What is Working Equitation?
Working Equitation began in 1996 by a collaboration of several countries including Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. It was developed to preserve the unique working horse traditions of each country and now the sport has spread worldwide including many countries in Europe, UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is for this reason that you will see horse and riders wearing different tack and clothing styles such as Australian Stock Horse, Western, English, Portuguese etc.
Working Equitation is unique in that all breeds of horse and pony are encouraged to participate, and a calm, responsive horse or pony is valued and rewarded.
It is made up of four phases with most competitions in Australia running three.
The first is Working Dressage in which a test is completed, very similar to EA Dressage, but in a 20m by 40m arena, the gaits and movements required reflect the other phases in the level. It is judged using a scale of marks from 0 - 10.
The second is Ease of Handling where a course of obstacles is navigated, it is judged using the same scale of marks for Working Dressage. Obstacles similar to those that a working horse may encounter in the field such as a gate, bridge, stock yard, picking up objects etc. are included. The partnership of horse and rider are judged in this phase and calm responsiveness is rewarded.
The third phase is Speed where a slightly shorter course of obstacles is completed but against the clock.
The fourth phase is Cattle and is only completed as a team event, a specific numbered beast is required to be separated from a small herd and yarded at the other end of the arena.
WEDU Inc. Levels
Working Equitation Down Under Inc. (WEDU Inc.) has 9 levels which progress horse and rider combinations from Lead Line to Masters, which is based on International Rules and Standards. The first four levels are unique to WEDU and integral to our "have a go" attitude and inclusiveness.
Training a horse for Working Equitation is a little different from training for any other equestrian sport in that W.E. values the harmony between horse and rider above everything else. At the highest levels W.E. principally uses only two gaits: the walk and the canter. Allowance is made at the lower levels for the trot as a training gait to condition the horse and rider to ultimately progress to a well‐balanced, collected canter. The sport’s ideals of walk/canter and single-handed riding, as well as having the horse in a good frame with balance and collection, are always to be kept in mind. The foremost consideration is always the horse. Therefore judges will always have as their first priority the calm way the horse goes and the clear and visible harmony between horse and rider.
Level 1 Lead Line - 2 Phase, Dressage and Ease of Handling, walk and trot only, ridden predominantly with two hands. Horse or pony is led by an adult handler. Horse must be at least 3 years of age. Allowing combinations at this level to compete is unique to WEDU Inc.
Level 2 Introductory - 2 Phase, Dressage and Ease of Handling, walk and trot only, ridden predominantly with two hands. Adult assistant may be on course to help if necessary. Horse must be at least 3 years of age.This level and its requirements is unique to WEDU Inc.
Level 3 Preparatory - 3 Phase (Cattle with permission), walk and trot only, ridden predominantly with two hands. May enter the Cattle phase with prior approval. Horse must be at least 3 years of age. Allowing combinations at this level to compete and also complete Speed and Cattle phases is unique to WEDU Inc.
Level 4 Preliminary - 4 Phase, ridden predominantly with two hands, canter is introduced between obstacles and as a simple circle in the Dressage phase. Transitions are progressive. Horse must be at least 4 years of age. This level and its requirements is unique to WEDU Inc.
Level 5 Novice - 4 Phase, ridden predominantly with two hands, canter or walk is compulsory for most of the Ease of Handling, transitions may be progressive. Horse should be consistent in its contact and balanced more on its hind quarters. Horse must be at least 4 years of age. First level with equivalent levels in other countries.
Level 6 Elementary - 4 Phase, rider may ride some obstacles one handed, more complex movements required in Dressage phase, simple canter lead changes and transitions. Beginnings of collection in trot and canter should be evident. Horse must be at least 5 years of age.
Level 7 Medium - 4 Phase, rider may ride some obstacles one handed. Flying changes and non-progressive transitions are required. Double bridles and Western shank bits are allowed from this level up. Collection and suppleness should be demonstrated. Horse must be at least 5 years of age.
Level 8 Advanced - 4 Phase, ridden one handed in all phases. Flying changes and non-progressive transitions are required. More advanced lateral movements are asked for in Dressage phase. Greater collection and impulsion than at Medium level. This level is to prepare the horse and rider for International standard. Horse must be at least 5 years of age.
Level 9 Masters - 4 Phase, ridden one handed in all phases. This is the highest level and equates to the WAWE International standard. Horse and rider should demonstrate harmony and coherence as a pair. This is only level that a horse and rider combination must qualify for. Horse must be at least 6 years of age.