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!

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