WE United Follow Up Survey

WE United recently posted a second brief survey looking for input on a couple of rules questions.  The survey link is at the bottom of this article.

While we are on the subject of contemplating rules improvements, ponder this.  The currently  method of breaking ties for the overall winner in a competition is to go back to the Dressage phase score.  The winner of the Dressage Phase is declared the winner of the overall.  This is done without regard to the possible disparity in the EOH scores between the tied riders.

The following example has occurred at  Intro Level and Youth levels and will occur again.  If rider A prevails in the Dressage Phase by only one point, and rider B prevails in the EOH phase by 10 points, and each rider is tied with the same competition points, the Dressage rider is declared the winner.  This is done despite the clear evidence rider A really did not have the better overall performance.  This tie breaking method is known as the “Dressage Bias”.

An easier and better method of resolving ties is available.  Simply sum the Dressage and EOH scores of the tied riders.  The larger combined score is clearly the superior rider!  This is a sport about the best overall horse and rider, not the best Dressage rider doing other things too. The following example illustrates the summing method with a different outcome!

Rider A Dressage score of 62%  EOH 45% Total 107

Rider B Dressage score of 61% EOH 55% Total 116

As you can see, the summing method would permit the better overall rider to prevail and should be employed at all levels when ties occur.

This solution was posed to WAWE President Joao Ralao Duarte, and his response was  yes,  that is an acceptable method of resolving ties.

You have it from the top, this is an acceptable (better) method of resolving ties.  If WE desires to grow the sport, then treating newcomers (and all riders)  in a fair and compassionate way should be at the top of the priority list.  Developing a Youth Program is a prerequisite to receiving the protocol.  Lets not be chasing our young riders off because of an arcane rule process that has no logical basis.   Ask your organization to promote a better method of resolving ties.

WE United Follow Up Survey



WE United offers a Rules Survey

SquareLogo_1WE United is offering a rules survey for all of our enthusiasts.  I took this survey and it seems to be impartial to the three organizations.  You are also able to comment on the reason you made a selection.  These comments could be useful for ways to ‘improve” a rule, rather than just adopt a rule.   You will need to read through a few of the questions carefully as there are some that appear very similar.  Your feedback could provide valuable insight for future decisions on ways to merge the three rule books into one that applies across the national organizations.   Here is the survey link.





An appeal for A Cooperative Effort

This letter seems to capture the sentiment of most of the WE community.

Dear Working Equitation Enthusiast,

The evolution of Working Equitation (WE) in the United States has been thwarted over the last several years due to factors that may have been important at one time but are no longer pertinent to enthusiasts of the sport.  This is a great time to put old issues behind us and move forward in a positive direction.

You are invited to voice your support for a “Cooperative Effort” among the three leading WE organizations toward the following goals:

  • For adoption in 2017,  one rule book employed by the three organizations; WEIAUSA, USFWE and WE United as well as for those clubs and chapters that are created as affiliates of these fine organizations. One rule book will benefit riders as well as judges and go a long way toward the U.S. being offered an opportunity to compete in Working Equitation in future world championship shows.

o    Dressage tests which are uniform and which are the only WE dressage tests employed in shows and competitions, regardless of the organization hosting the event.

o    Continuity among the “levels” used within the rules.

o    Competition Regions that are the same among the three organizations.

And near future goals of:

  • Judges, Technical Delegate and trainer instruction that is accepted across the three organizations.
  • A process for the selection of a National Championship and team, and U.S. riders for international competitions.

There is no reason to change the three primary organizations and how they can do business or change their entities.   This concept simply means the existing organizations are considered equals and each has a unique and important contribution that will benefit the future of the sport in the U.S.

  • WEIAUSA is an LLC, and is responsible for a lot of the enthusiasm of WE in the USA. The management of WEIAUSA is encouraged to continue to do business, host shows, educate judges, and maintain affiliates and memberships as has been done to date.  All Working Equitation riders in the U.S. should appreciate the significant contribution to our sport that WEIAUSA and the owners have made.   The concept of a Cooperative Effort does not necessarily change how WEIAUSA is expected to conduct its organization or business.
  • USFWE is a 501C3 non-profit umbrella Corporation with state and regional organizations, and clubs. The USFWE has a judging certification program, a wealth of knowledge of the sport and a structure that encourages building ridership through state and local clubs and affiliates.  The concept of a Cooperative Effort does not necessarily change how USFWE is expected to conduct its business.
  • WE United is a 501C3 non-profit Corporation that has rapidly moved forward with an enthusiastic membership base and a significant presence through hosting educational clinics and offering sanctioned shows. WE United is primarily a membership driven organization, but they will likely have local and state chapters as well.  The concept of a Cooperative Effort does not necessarily change how WE United is expected to conduct its business.

Working Equitation needs all of these organizations, as well as their members and affiliates for the sport to prosper.  Because the U.S. is such a large country with many equestrian activities competing for attention, the WE community needs these organizations to work together for the sport to prosper.  There will be greater opportunities for all when this is achieved.

YOU can make a difference in these ways:

  1. This is an election year for the Board of Directors of our non-profit groups. Both the USFWE and WE United are having elections in the next few weeks.  YOU, the Working Equitation enthusiasts and members of these organizations are encouraged to cast your ballot for candidates who state in writing they are in favor of a cooperative effort to move Working Equitation to the next level.
  2. Show your support by emailing the national organizations  at the following addresses: info@WEIAUSA.com, USFWEO@gmail.com, WorkingEquitationUnited@gmail.com,  and please cc us, WorkingEquitationToday@gmail.com so we also know your thoughts and title the email, “I support a Cooperative WE community!”  If you wish, offer a brief description of your thoughts.

Finally, copy this articled from the top to the bottom and forward it to  all of your Working Equitation friends asking them to support this effort as well and share your thoughts on Facebook as well.

Thank you.   Together we can make a difference!

From www.WorkingEquitation.Today speaking for ALL Passionate, concerned, involved WE enthusiasts.

What WAWE Wants!

Recently I had an opportunity to discuss with some of the early enthusiast of WE just how we got where we are with respect to the “national” groups and some of the perceived divisions.  At this point it appears to almost be like the legendary Hatfield and McCoy’s, a feud that has gone on so long that nobody really remembers what caused it or why!

What came out of the discussion was a marvelous letter from the President of WAWE to all of the “players” in the U.S.  This letter is from 2013 and gives us some insight into who was involved at the time and what the expectation of WAWE would be with respect to the much coveted “protocol”.   Many of the original “players” have since disappeared, but several are still among us, and continue to have an interest and involvement in WE.

What is the “protocol”?  The elusive protocol is simply the authorization from WAWE for a country to send a team of riders to international championships.  For that to happen certain criteria are required to be met.  In recent months leadership from more than one of our national organizations have met with and appealed to the President of WAWE, asking that the protocol be made available to their organization.  He has held his ground, we do not meet the criteria so U.S. riders will not be accorded the opportunity to compete.   Good on you Joao!  Ultimately we will be better off, though it would be a shame if our first generation of riders all miss the opportunity to compete on the international stage.

These are the KEY elements needed by the U.S. in the 2013 letter (which is attached to the end of this article), and they are the same today as then.

  1. An agreement is requited between WAWE and those entities compromising ALL of the United States Working Equitation organization(s). WAWE does not require there to be one organization alone representing WE in the United States, provided the various organizations in some form of association agree with each other.
  2. Identifies each entity approving the agreement. An entity is not an individual.
  3. Contains a single set of rules and regulations that govern the discipline.  Again, there can be more than one organization, however each organization must agree to every part of the singular set of rules and regulations.   We currently have three or four sets of rules.
  4. WAWE requires an ASSOCIATION of participants.   This can be worked out.  The USFWE was originally intended to be an association of other organizations.  The USFWE is willing to be an equal alongside WEIAUSA and WE United if that is what it takes to move forward.
  5. Identifies who (by personal name or organization name is not clear) is responsible for the future relationship with WAWE.
  6. Must define as objectives, the number of competitions, regional and national that will take place annually.
  7. Identify training courses for riders.
  8. Identify training courses for judges.
  9. Identify the national costume.
  10. Include guidance and rules for the youth teams (program).
  11. Must offer some type of financial support to WAWE.

Many of these objectives have already been met by one or more of our national organizations.  All that is lacking is one rulebook and cooperation agreements between the interested parties.    We can do that!

The letter is a bit hard to understand (due to translation), but  you can compare what was stated above to verify  I have not embellished in any way.    You may have to click on this link again in the new window.   wawe-protocol-letter

Please get behind  the effort asking for cooperation among the national organizations.

Course Ideas for Small Arenas and Informal Shows


By Amy Star

These WE course design ideas can have a BIG impact on your show in a small arena.  If you are designing a course for a smaller arena using these ideas can offer better riding opportunities.

Know what obstacles can be close together without hindering each other, this will allow better use of space in small arenas.   For instance, the table and pitcher could be close to the outside of the livestock pen or near a jump standard rather than standing alone in the arena.

Use a variation of the same obstacle to increase the difficulty of the course without needing to add obstacles.   i.e. – The Pole Corridor with Cup, can be done as a walk through for the lowest level, a straight back through at a middle level, and with a serpentine back through for high level contestants.

Have a ‘safe zone’ for the judge to stand, where the competitors are unlikely to cross, but the judge can see all of the course. You could even set chairs or a barricade around the judges area.

Offer riding space between obstacles, meaning don’t have consecutive obstacles right next to each other.   Leave enough space between obstacles for the competitor to have some choice of route from one obstacle to the next providing an opportunity to transition to canter and demonstrate a good canter rhythm.

Be fair to all riders.  If the sun or heat are an issue for helpers, be sure to add the umbrella or shade zone before a class has started, not in the middle of a class! Some horses may react to the visual of the umbrella in an unpredictable way.  If helpers are on the course during the competition, instruct them to stand in the same location during the entire class.

If the competition is a local or fun show, it isn’t imperative the jump height is the height of a bale of hay.  A lower natural object may be used,

A simple color scheme using only 1, 2 or 3 colors is preferable on a course.   Vegetation, either real or synthetic is a nice addition. Red flowers should be avoided because they can create confusion with the red flags.

Minimize the amount of course re-setting that is required between rider levels.  This reduces the amount of man-power required and speeds up the whole competition.  For example if your course will include Side Stepping over Poles, Jumping over Bales, or other obstacles that are not part of the criteria for lower level riders, place those challenges near the end of the course.  This eliminates re-numbering the entire course for riders at the upper levels.  This is a time saver and eliminates the chance of creating a course error.  During the walk down instruct the lower level riders their ride will end at a certain obstacle number, and upper level riders are instructed to continue on through the rest of the course.

Working Equitation Course Ideas

By Amy Star

These Working Equitation Course ideas can have a positive impact on your next competition.  Riding in competitions is so much fun that getting volunteers to help during a competition can be a challenge.  Show how much you appreciate your helpers by reducing the amount they need to walk while they are resetting obstacles. Here are few tips that can keep your helpers fresh and happy.

  • When possible place items that need to be reset in relative proximity to each other, not on opposite ends of the arena. This will reduce the personnel needed to reset multiple obstacles.
    • Obstacles that need attention with every rider are: returning the  Lance used to Pick up the Ring or to Knock a Ball. The Switch a Cup and Throw a Rope.
    • Other obstacles that frequently need attention are those that can accidentally get knocked over such as the Jump, any Backing Corridors and Side Step the Poles.  The Drag an Item (log or sack)  obstacle can also require attention as does the Move a Sack.
  • When practical, use one barrel to both pick up and to deposit the lance.  Make the ring stand target (the bull) relatively close to the lance barrel rather than the other end of the arena.   That doesn’t mean the rider only travels a short distance and replaces the lance. In fact the rider should travel a reasonable distance or may  carry the lance while performing other obstacles, then the rider will replace the lance to the original drum which isn’t too far from the ring stand. When set up in this way the helper doesn’t have to run all the way across the arena to retrieve the lance and then replace the ring on the target.
    • Consider having a few spare rings at the show, this could be helpful if a ring becomes damaged or  lost in the footing and saves the helper from barrel diving after each competitor.  If you have spent much time diving into the bottom of barrels retrieving rings you know how much fun that is!
  • Switch a Cup needs resetting with every competitor, so placing it near the ring stand also makes sense.
  • Set the barrel containing the lance in the half of the arena closest to the in gate and start line; this will reduce the amount of time for the competitor to enter and arrange the pole before being ready to ride.  While it seems minor, if it takes a rider two minutes to ride to the other end of the arena to check or set their lance and then ride back to the starting area, and you have twenty riders doing this you’ve added 40 minutes to the length of just the EOH phase!
  • When setting up the Drag an Item, return the log or sack to the starting location if possible.
  • Similarly Pick-up the Sack and Return the Sack to the same place makes that a self-setting obstacle, only needing attention if not properly completed.

Good course design can reduce the helpers needed to maintain the course during a show, speed up the competition and keep your volunteers coming back!

Scoring with a Rider Withdrawal

Nothing can taint the fun of a competition like an error in scoring!  And because Working Equitation has so many scores to tabulate there are simply more opportunities to make an error, so it is very important that your show tabulators have a good handle on this subject.

This is how to properly score when one or more contestants  withdraw from a competition.

As the photo shows, one rider decides he cannot continue after the Dressage Trial.  As the score tabulator what do you do?

Even though there are less riders in the remaining trials, continue to place riders with the same scoring values  as they received in the initial trials.

For Example: During the Dressage Trail there were originally four riders:  first place would receive five points, second place three points, third place two points and fourth place one point.

Now one rider withdraws after dressage.  Even though there are now three riders in the remaining trials the scoring continues with the original values from Dressage: first place would receive five points, second place three points, third place two points and there is no fourth place because the rider has withdrawn from the competition.

The reason is, if the original trial values are not maintained it may be impossible for a rider who finished second or third in the Dressage Trial to catch or surpass the leading rider if the remaining Trials are not accorded the original set of values. This occurs all the way down the placing with the point values. The easy way to remember this is to simplify the problem.  If riders drop from a competition, just mark them the same AS IF THEY HAD DISQUALIFIED during each succeeding events.  This will keep the placement values proper so all the  riders are awarded the proper overall points! And everybody is happy!

Thank you Bruce Menke for offering guidance on this subject and incorporating this  important rule clarification in the 2016 WEIAUSA rules.  WEIA

For more on scoring see WEIAUSA rules page 28, section 3.1.C.5.

Don’t DQ by Passing Through!

If you are getting your Working Equitation education through videos and reading the rules you might be really disappointed if a judge disqualifies your due to this seemingly insignificant rule!

When riding in EOH or the Speed test, you may not pass between any elements of another obstacle unless you have already completed that obstacle.

Here is an example that could catch you off guard and cause a DQ.

Arizona Course Map

You can click this art (any art on our site) to see a full size version.

In our example the course map calls for these  elements to be performed in the following order.

4. Garrocha Pick Up

5. Skewer the Ring

6. Return the Garrocha

7. Switch a Cup

During the course walk down you plan your path of travel for elements 4, 5 and 6  and you decide on your return trip to drop off the garrocha you will travel between the Single Slalom Poles, Continue reading Don’t DQ by Passing Through!

Red and White Flags

Clearly marking your Working Equitation course is essential.  A Best Flag (2)great source for Red is Right and White is Left flags is Store Supply Warehouse.   They offer Red and White Pennant Strings (24 of each color)  for only $10 plus shipping.  The individual pennants can be cut from the 105 foot string and  attached to slalom poles or other course markers  in a variety of ways.  Very convenient and made from a heavy  poly material.



How We Became Cowboys Part I

The introduction to all Working Equitation rules state the discipline has “the objective of enhancing the equestrian techniques developed in countries whose riders use horses in different aspects of work in the field ( ranching)”. The aim is not only to preserve and perpetuate each country’s type of equitation, but also their various traditions, the dress, and tack comprising each nation’s unique cultural equestrian heritage.  Very few North Americans actually know our own unique cultural equestrian heritage as it relates to ranching.  Until recently movies and television portrayed cowboys inaccurately, and those images are what most people carry with them today.   With all of this in mind we have assembled this informative series.

This article is meant to provide a brief overview about the very early history of those who became the great American icon, The Cowboy. As Working Equitation riders, we have a responsibility to perpetuate and honor our unique traditions, methods, and customs involving the tack and attire of our ranching forefathers. North America, from Mexico to Canada is unique in our way of ranching and livestock work. You may be surprised to learn of the long forgotten souls behind our most charismatic of American icon .

Spanish Conquistadors become Mexican Ranchers

1494 –  Isabella, Queen of Castile, Spain recognized the importance of quickly establishing a presence in the New World. Less than two years after Columbus first spied the Americas, Isabella funded his return to the new world. Columbus, along with 1200 Spanish settlers, 24 stallions (for riding and breeding), 10 mares for breeding, and an unknown number of cattle, landed just off the

austurias horse
The Austurias, a handsome, compact breed exist yet today.

Island known as Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic). King Ferdinand (husband of Isabella) decreed that the horses brought on this second voyage should be “the finest war horses available”.   Each soldier was provided a stipend for the purchase of their personal “war horse”, and it appears they did this, and rode those horses in the celebrations held prior to leaving for the “New World”.   But, those horses were probably sold and “lesser” horses purchased for the voyage.

The ships held a collection of common stock breeds, mainly Sorraia, Spanish Jennet, Asturian and Garrano, all important Spanish breeds, but surely not the majestic steeds in the decree. Continue reading How We Became Cowboys Part I

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