More from WE-US

Perhaps the most important contribution the rules committee implemented in the new consolidated US-WE rulebook is a new way of looking at the way a competition championship tie is resolved.  This is a cause that WET has long championed.USFWEA

In the past, if riders were tied for a class  Championship in a competition, the highest score in Dressage prevailed.  But WE is not about Dressage horses “doing other things”, it is about horse and rider teams who exhibit the ability to perform well under a variety of circumstances.   Under the old system, if two children, (who would only have two trials, Dressage and EOH) were tied for the championship at a show, the child with the higher Dressage score prevailed, without regard to how much better the other child had performed in EOH.

At the request of High Country Working Equitation Club in Colorado, Tarrin Warren had occasion to ask the President of WAWE his opinion on the tie resolution method you will see below.  He agreed, this is acceptable.  So here it is, implemented in WE-US, page 23.

In the event of a tie for champion at a given level, the competitor who earned the highest average of the combined Dressage and EOH score will be placed higher. If there is still a tie, the competitor with the highest score in EOH will be placed higher. If there is still a tie the fastest time in the Speed trial will place higher.

Other opportunities for Resolving Ties have been addressed as well.

Dressage ties are resolved using the higher Collective Marks.  If these are equal the tie remains.

If a tie occurs in the EOH trial, the rider who incurred a 0 will be placed lower than the rider who did not. If the tie remains, the collective marks are used to break the tie. If these marks are equal, the entries remain tied and each will be awarded the points associated with the placing for which they are tied.

The Speed Trial is still placed in order of lowest time.  In the event of a tie, the tie is resolved by the least number of time penalties placing higher  If these marks are equal, the entries remain tied.

The EOH tie rule was implemented because of another  rule improvement.  The implementation of scoring riders in the kids and Level 1,2 & 3 classes with a 0 for unsuccessfully performing an obstacle.  In the past, the rider was disqualified and took the “walk of shame” out of the arena.  Now those riders continue on the course, learning as they compete, and enjoying the show the experience. As in the past, experienced riders in Level 4 up must perform the obstacle correctly, or they will be disqualified from the EOH Trial as in the past.WEIA

Here are some applications of the Zero rule.

Under Section 6.8 Course Errors  Refuses an obstacle (e.g., the horse stops, steps backwards, or circles before entering the obstacle). Children, Introductory (L1), and Novice A/B (L2/L3) riders are allowed three refusals; each refusal is penalized. If the third try is unsuccessful, the rider can, with the authorization of the Judge, move on to the next obstacle and a score of 0 is given for the obstacle not completed.

Here are applications of the Zero rule from execution criteria for the various obstacles such as:weunitedlogo_hr_rast

Earthenware Jug  If the jug is dropped, a member of the ground crew will hand the jug to the riders  competing at Children and Introductory (L1) levels.  Novice (L2/L3) level riders must dismount, retrieve the jug, remount and replace the jug on the table.  Failure to dismount, retrieve the jug and remount will result in a 0 for the obstacle.

 However : Intermediate (L4) through Masters (L7) riders must dismount, retrieve the jug, remount (with jug in hand), and replace the jug; failure to do so will result in disqualification.

Here is how the Zero rule applies to the Pole Obstacles If the pole is dropped, a member of the ground crew will hand the pole to the riders competing at Children and Introductory (L1) levels.  Novice (L2/L3) level riders must dismount, retrieve the pole, and remount with the pole in hand or receive a 0 for the obstacle.

Essentially, whatever you drop, you can only place after you have remounted with the dropped item in your hand.

Level 2&3 Riders, be aware!  If you receive three 0s during your EOH Trial, you are not eligible to participate in the Speed Trial! US-WE page 34.

Riders at all levels can still be disqualified from an EOH or Speed Trial in a number of other ways.  The position has remained firm on riding obstacles out of order.  All riders, even the kids will be disqualified from an EOH (or Speed trial) for riding the course out of order.  US-WE Page 36

All rider at all levels will be disqualified for incorrectly or incompletely performing an obstacle.   The same rules apply as in the past, if you perform any obstacle incorrectly, or incompletely, you can fix it, provided you do not start performing the next obstacle, including passing through the markers for the next obstacle.

Understanding US-WE page 36 is fundamental to your success in Working Equation, download the rules and spend some time becoming familiar, your success will surely depend on it.

Here are links to the complete rule sets from your favorite national organization.

WEIAUS          USFWEO       WE United

The New Rules are Out

The United States Rules for Working Equitation, a new rule book used by all three Working Equitation Organizations have been finalized and are available in complete PDF Versions on each organization website.

Each organization had to make some concessions for this rule set, so you as an individual may not be 100% happy with everything contained here, but keep in mind another rider who has performed under an earlier version or another organization may have some displeasure with the changes as well.  That’s the thing about change, it is inevitable, and not everyone is happy about it, but if everybody is just a little unhappy, then this committee did a great job.  Having quite a lot of familiarity with all three prior rule books I am surprised how well the committee managed to keep synchronicity with the prior books and coordinate those attributes within the new set. WEIA

The most immediate change evident for WEIAUSA and WE United riders are the change in the Performance Levels descriptions.  There are now seven performance levels plus Children.  The introduction of the new levels was to permit a smoother transition opportunity for horses that are being developed in the canter changes.  There are also a few new obstacles that are Western in nature, these are only ridden in Levels 1-5.

The levels are now called: Children, Level 1 (Intro), Level 2 (Novice A), Level 3 (Novice B), Level 4 (Intermediate A), Level 5 (Intermediate B), Level 6 (Advanced) and Level 7 (Masters/International) 

Classes up to Level 5 may ride with one or two hands.  Level 6 and Level 7 are one hand only.  Class Levels 1- Level 6 may be offered as Youth, Amateur and Open, and a young horse division is permitted for Level 1, 2 and 3.

Here are overviews of the requirements at each level.  Consult the rule book for more detailed information prior to a competition.  

Children classes are Walk/Trot classes in both Dressage and EOH, either a Sitting or Rising Trot are permitted. During EOH Children are permitted to Walk or Trot between obstacles, Riders are permitted to walk when involved in the Pole Pickup, catching the Ring and Pole deposit.  Riders are permitted to halt to Pick up the Sack and then walk while carrying the sack to the destination.  Excluded obstacles are the Jump, Side Stepping Rails, Backing in the L, Rounding Posts, Riding through a Water filled Ditch, Bank Jump, Drag Item and Herding Animals.  There is no Speed or Cattle Trial.  A very nice Dressage Test has been written for riders at this Level, a test reader may be used.  This class may be offered as Youth, Amateur and Open.

Level 1 is a Walk/Trot class in both Dressage and EOH, either a Sitting or Rising Trot are permitted. Riders are required to Trot between obstacles but are permitted to walk when involved in the Pole Pickup, catching the Ring and Pole deposit.  Riders are permitted to halt to Pick up the Sack and then walk while carrying the sack to the destination.   Excluded obstacles are the Jump, Side Stepping Rails, Backing in the L, Rounding Posts, Riding through a Water filled Ditch, Bank Jump, Drag Item and Herding Animals.  There is no Speed or Cattle Trial.  A very nice Dressage Test has been written for riders at this Level, a test reader may be used.  This class may be offered as Youth, Amateur and Open.USFWEA

Level 2 requires 20 meter Working Canter in the Dressage test, but the test has no lead changes. Sitting or Rising Trot is permitted. During EOH the Canter is required between obstacles but trotting is permitted on the circles and serpentine obstacles.  If Canter lead changes are performed they are permitted through the trot.  All obstacles are required, with several corridor obstacles offering walk-in or trot-in entry options, such as Bell at the End of the Corridor.  The jump is required but may be performed at the Trot.  Riders are permitted to halt to Pick up the Sack and then may move the Sack at the Walk or Trot.  Level 2 is permitted to Walk or Trot in the Livestock Pen.  This level and all higher levels includes the Speed Test and Cattle Trial.  A very nice Dressage Test has been written for riders at this Level and a test reader may be used.  This class may be offered as Youth, Amateur and Open.

Level 3 and all higher levels requires the trot to be ridden while sitting.  Level 3 has 15 meter canters with a change through the trot in the Dressage test.  This level and all higher require the canter to be performed between each obstacle.   Canter is required on all the serpentine and circle obstacles with all canter transitions through the Trot.  Walk or trot is permitted in the Pen and Walk-in or Trot-in entry is permitted on obstacles such as Switching a Glass from one Pole to another and other corridor obstacles. The move a Sack obstacle may be performed at the Trot or Canter but halting to pick up the sack is not permitted.    An excellent Dressage Test has been written for this Level and a test reader may be used. This class may be offered as Youth, Amateur and Open.

Level 4 introduces the rider to a Dressage Test divided with the first half at Walk and Trot including Leg Yields at the Collected Trot.  The second half of the test is performed in the Medium and Collected Canter with 15 and 20 Meter circles. All changes of lead are performed with a simple change (through the walk). This is the only Level with Simple Changes.  All circle and serpentine obstacles are performed with Simple Changes.  The Pen may be performed at a Walk or Canter, and the entry to obstacles like the Backing up in the L may be entered at the Walk or Canter. The Move a Sack is required at the Canter and it must be picked up without a halt.  The Dressage Test must be performed from memory.  This class may be offered as Youth, Amateur and Open.

Level 5 introduces the rider to an excellent Dressage Test divided by Walk, Trot and Canter sections. As to be expected, riders at this level and up are required to employ flying changes during all parts of the Dressage Test and EOH.  The Pen is permitted at the walk or canter, as are the entries into the Bell Corridor and the Backing up in an L.  The entry to Rounding Several objects is required at the canter. The Move a Sack is required at the canter and riders are not permitted to halt to pick up the sack.  This class may be offered as Youth, Amateur and Open.weunitedlogo_hr_rast

Level 6 introduces the requirement to ride one handed at all times. The Dressage test contains nineteen movements, with the first half of the test at the Walk and Trot,  the remainder of the test is in Extended, Medium and Collected Canters describing circles of 20, 15, and 10 meters respectively as well as other movements.  Half pirouettes at the canter are required in both directions. EOH requirements are identical to Level 5.  The Additional Non-WAWE (Move Sack, Drag Item etc.) obstacles are not a requirement at this Level.  This class may be offered as Youth, Amateur and Open.

Level 7, Masters (International Level) The published Dressage Test is the WAWE International 2015 test.  This contains the 18 required Masters Level elements.  All WAWE requirements are mandated at this class level.

Please return soon for more details about the United States Rules for Working Equitation

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

The 800 Pound Gorilla

The old quiz that asks, “What do you do when you are in a room with an 800 pound Gorilla?     Answer, “Whatever he wants!”

Let’s start with a little fiction and then move on to reality, and you will see the reason for this odd introduction.

Let’s pretend the year is 2020, the setting is the International Working Equitation Championships somewhere in Europe. For the first time the United States is represented in an international competition with a team of riders and their mounts, all flown from the US.  With a US team at the game the title  World Association of Working Equitation  has some meaning.

Day One: Dressage. While not typically attended with large crowds there is an increase in attendance during the trials. Every competitor not preparing their mount is viewing the Americans. The general response is, “yes they are ok, and trying, but they don’t really Look1have the horse”. The US team finishes the day with all their riders in about the middle of the standings. The team is in about the same place.  Surprisingly the tone and demeanor of the riders is very positive. A US rider comments, “Yes, we are very happy with our scores and our rides, this is exactly where we expected to be.”

Day Two: Precision. The American Team walks the course and develops a riding strategy for the day. The WAWE officials beam with excitement as they now have the beloved “Cowboy”, well actually Cowgirls, among the international competitors.   In the warm up arena the training and athletic ability of the US horses does not go unnoticed. The calm professional demeanor of the horses and their acceptance of the new environment has the admiration of most of the international 09WorldGate_smriders. “These horses have shown” is heard more than once.  The precision of the riders is impressive as well.  The Europeans love the American Team, they are charming, affable and proud to wear a cowboy hat.   Spectators came expecting to see Cowboys first hand, for the first time, but the ladies do not disappoint. In competition the horses are un-phased by every challenge and negotiate the course with minimal faults. The horses and riders are obviously very seasoned in the competition environment. The European riders expresses some level of respect, even disbelief that these riders, wholly unknown to them can command such an impressive performance. At the end of the day the US riders all place in the top 25% of the scores, moving the team into third or fourth place. Again, the riders comment, “Yes, this is going really well, we didn’t make any bonehead mistakes and the judges recognized we came well prepared. ”  The Team is placed right where they expected. Continue reading The 800 Pound Gorilla

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