Sierra Nevada Lusitanos Promo Video

Thank you Sierra Nevada Lusitanos for creating this excellent Working Equitation promotional video.

This video captures the essence of Working Equitation for those who are not yet uninitiated,  offering footage of horses from many breeds and riders in both traditional US Western and other international tack and attire.  A great share for your friends who may be interested in our sport.  To know more about Sierra Nevada Lusitanos visit their site at


Training for the Garrocha Pole Part 2

Part II

This is part two of a three part series on training and tips for the Garrocha pole as used in Work Equitation. This article will be focusing on desensitizing horses to the “targets” used in Working Equitation Ease of Handling and the Speed Test.

The Ring & The Bull

The most common target seen in Working Equtation competition is the ring. In competition the ring is often attached to the “bull’s” back. The ring may be balanced on a cone that is sitting on a barrel or suspended from a pole with Velcro magnents. Sometimes there will be a series of rings suspended at different heights.

Lisa Marie Photography

The silhouette of a bull is a very intimidating part of the obstacle for a lot of horses. Generally the bull is made out of wood and is quite flat sided.  Due to the horse’s poor depth perception and the fact that the obstacle is generally completed in a straight line, a lot of horses do not see the bull well until they are close to passing by it.   This causes a lot of horses to spook off the straight line the rider is trying to maintain.  Working Equitation bulls come in all different shapes, colors and sizes in the competition ring.  They are generally custom made, rarely do two bulls look alike. Even horses that are used to live cows are not sure about these two dimensional “bulls”. Therefore, desensitizing the horse to the bull must be accomplished before a rider can focus on the ring. Continue reading Training for the Garrocha Pole Part 2

Working Equitation Jump Training

Working Equitation offers a small jump obstacle.  In this article we will  reveal a proven method to safely introduce Jump Training to your horse.

By Jody Marken

Photos by Elaine Lozada

This article focuses on key ideas to create a solid foundation and offer a positive introduction to jumping with your horse.  We will not concentrate on the quality of the horse’s jumping style, but rather on the safety and presentation of starting your horse over low Working Equitation jumps and your ability to go with him. It is our responsibility to always practice good horsemanship and realize that each horse has an individual learning style.  Horses have a natural ability to jump – if something in their environment gets in their way and they need to get to the other side, they will jump it.

Introducing Jump Training

If you are going to effectively work with your horse and introduce him to jumps, the following exercises/principles need to make sense to you, so that you will present them to your horse in a way that he will understand.  You need to stay in your comfort zone, use good judgment and be patient and clear with your directions.  If you methodically teach this progression with kindness and if you do the best preparation work – you will end up with a confident, willing and happy horse who understands your direction.  You will also be able to have fun doing something different with your horse.  It is helpful to work with an instructor/helper/ground person when introducing jumps to your horse.

This article will focus on a few principles that form the basis of much of our riding:  rhythm, relaxation, impulsion and straightness combined with varying speed, direction and destination.

Ground Work Preparation

You can certainly teach your horse to jump without introducing it from the ground first, but groundwork offers a fun opportunity to build your relationship with your horse and recognize subtle changes in his expression.

Photo 1; Jody is introducing her OTTB to jumps by working him online through a progressive series of obstacles.
Photo 1  Jody is introducing her OTTB to jumps by working him online through a progressive series of obstacles.

If you do ground work with your horse online there are a few exercises that will help him learn how to think for himself and find his balance and timing when approaching and going over an obstacle.  Your horse should accept your leadership and guidance on a circle – to go forward, travel on a straight line, move his hindquarters/front quarters, yield etc.  It helps to prepare him so that you can send him over something (send over versus lead over). Continue reading Working Equitation Jump Training

Our Contributing Writers

It is our contributing writers who make Working Equitation Today possible.  Because WE is so new in North America there is not a large pool of writers with extensive experience in the sport, yet we are fortunate to have contributors with significant expertise in competition and training that are pertinent to Working Equitation.   Working Equitation Today® will continue to offer content from horse persons who are actively riding Working Equitation and who have  experience that applies to the sport. 

We are thrilled to introduce Jody Marken

Jody has been involved with horses since childhood, both as an amateur and a professional.  She has competed in Hunter/Jumper shows, Dressage and Eventing.  She also enjoys trail riding, riding over open country with the Arapahoe Hunt, horsemanship clinics and working a cowTwo Spruce Logo

Jody owns and operates Two Spruce Farm in Berthoud, Colorado.  She teaches lessons in horsemanship and basic jumping and has helped many people safely enter the world of horses.  She offers Trail Obstacle clinics that help establish better communication and trust between riders and their horses.  Jody and other expert clinicians also offer Cow-working clinics for a positive introduction and exposure to cattle for riders and their horses.

Jody founded the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center 35 years ago and has worn many hats there – from Director to Instructor to supporter.  Jody believes in “giving back” and has volunteered for many horse events and organizations.

Jody is also a USEF “r” judge for Hunters and Hunt Seat Equitation, and loves to judge as she feels that to be a better rider/competitor, everyone should experience the show from the judge’s perspective.  Jody is also a student of the horse – always learning.

Jody has witnessed many people who have the desire to work positively with their horses – but their lack of confidence prevents a healthy, enjoyable relationship.  Drawing from her personal and professional experience with fear, Jody wants to help people reestablish the satisfaction of working with their horses and to help people “find your stride…”.

Tarrin Warren

Tarrin Warren 2 (2)

Tarrin Warren is the owner of TNT Quarter Horses, LLC. She lives in central Texas with her husband, two boys and collection of creatures. They breed, train and show their Quarter Horses. Tarrin also trains and competes on outside horses. For over twenty years Tarrin has enjoyed giving lessons and clinics to help others reach their goals with their horses. She has competed on and trained horses for multiple disciplines including Working Equitation, racing, barrels, halter, showmanship, jumping, dressage, polocrosse, team penning, sorting, trail, pleasure, huntseat, poles, campdrafting, and more.

For the last three years Tarrin’s focus has been on Working Equitation and has earned multiple championships, reserve championships, top five and ten finishes at the national, regional and local level all on horses she has raised and trained or trained and competed on for clients. Her students and horses she has trained have also earned championships and top five and ten finishes at national, regional and local levels.  In September 2014, Tarrin earned her judging certification with WEIAUSA. She had the privilege of shadow judging with WAWE president Joao Ralao Duarte in Las Vegas. Tarrin will be spending a week in intensive training with Nuno Matos in the beginning of March 2015. Tarrin is available for lessons, training and clinics. You can contact her at:  or visit her FaceBook page – TNT Quarter Horses, LLC and her website TNT Farms Quarter Horses

Amy Star

Amy Star Bio photoAmy Star grew up in Tucson Arizona, riding her horses through the beautiful sonoran desert.  Amy is a graduate of Colorado State University where she earned a B.S. in Equine Science and a M.S. in Agriculture.  She was an Extension Agent for Colorado State University in Adams County for 14 years and in New Mexico State University for 2 years, where her specialty was horse related educational programming.  Currently Amy is a licensed Realtor, and lives in Tucson, Arizona with her two children.

Amys’  horse farm is called “Coudelaria Estelar”, which is Portuguese for “Stellar Horse Stables”, and she has been breeding and training Andalusian and Lusitano horses since 1996.  Amy rides her horses in parades, exhibitions, shows, ranch work and Working Equitation clinics and competitions.  Amy’s horses have won numerous national championship titles in many disciplines.

Amy is a life-long student of horse, having ridden western most of her life and branching out to explore classical training, liberty work and Californio bridle horsemanship, she considers herself a fairly well rounded horseman.  Since 2008, Amy has been very focused on Working Equitation, winning several national events as well as offering clinics and being a founding member of the United States Federation of Working Equitation.  You can contact Amy at  for clinics and see her fine horses at

Keith Jacobson
Ginny Furness photo.
Ginny Furness photo.

Keith Jacobson has been actively involved with horses most of his life.  He is the editor and owner of Working Equitation Today®.   Keith has been involved in Ranch Horse Versatility, Team Sorting, Western Dressage and Working Equitation, and attended the WEIAUSA judges training seminar in 2015.  He has been offering cattle handling clinics  since 2003 and is frequently a guest clinician at cattle handling clinics in Colorado.

Side Step the Pole II

In our second installment on Side Step the Pole, Working Equitation Competitor, Trainer and Clinician Amy Star offers additional insight into how to train your horse to side pass cleanly.

Coaches Corner

By Amy Star

This seemingly simple obstacle has quite a bit of depth and challenge to it in the working equitation. There can be several variations from easiest to most challenging: single pole, two poles laid out separately, two poles to form an “L” or three poles connected to create a “Z” or “step shape”.Log layout 2

The judge will be looking for a good walking rhythm being maintained during the obstacle, with adequate crossing of both the front and hind legs. The body of the horse does not have to be perpendicular to the ground pole and in fact allowing the horse’s forehand to be a bit advanced from the hind will help the horse in crossing over and maintaining a good rhythm. Continue reading Side Step the Pole II

Rider Levels – Ease of Handling

These are generalized skill expectations  for riders in Ease of Handling per WEIAUSA and USFWE.   Effective January 2015.

  Don’t be too concerned about which organization lets you do what at any particular level.  This is for guidance purposes until you are actually entered in an accredited show.  What is really important is getting both legs over your horse and riding!  You will soon have a really good idea of your strengths and those areas that need work.

  • USFWE Level 1 = Introductory Level in WEIAUSA
  • USFWE Level  2 = Novice in WEIAUSA
  • USFWE Level 3 = about Intermediate in WEIAUSA
  • USFWE Level 4 &5 = appx.  Advanced in WEIAUS
  • USFWE Level  6 =  Masters in WEIAUSA

The following list is a generalization as well.  Again, don’t be too concerned about when you can trot and when you have to canter.   Every rider is welcome to ride in clinics and fun shows to the best of their ability!  Without any arduous requirements.  When you reach Level 5 (Advanced) and plan to take a shot at a national championship you can start taking all this a little more seriously.

  • Level 1 riders will travel between obstacles at the trot
  • Level 2  will travel between obstacles at the trot or canter.
  • Level 3 up will travel between obstacles at the canter.
  • Levels 6 and Masters do all work one handed at the canter.

This is a list of the obstacles  and rider expectations as generally accepted by all groups.    As the training of the horse progresses, the obstacle expectations may change as well.  The following is for Ease of Handling only.  Green text indicates we have an article about the obstacle.

Cross Bridge

  • All levels.
  • Performed at a Walk

Figure 8 

  • Level 1 at  Walk or Trot.
  • Level 2 and 3 at Trot or Canter with simple change.
  • Level 4 up at Canter with flying change.
  • Level 1 – 4, circles can be any size but must be uniform .
  • Level 5 & 6 circles are 10 feet.

Continue reading Rider Levels – Ease of Handling

Side Step the Pole

 Feature Photo by Tammy Sparks Williams

Side Step the Pole is performed in Level 2 and up. 

Xino & TJ ground pole 8894 al sh50
Kris Garrett photo

It is frequently fascinating to see the reaction of a horse when asked to  side pass over a pole for the first time.  Even very seasoned horses  can take on the attitude of “why would you want me to walk sideways with that thing under me!” But rest assured every horse will accept the pole under them shortly.

During Ease of Handling phase Side Step the Pole is always performed at a walk.   It is not a Level 1 requirement. Continue reading Side Step the Pole

Master the Rope Gate First

Feature photo by Ginny Furness

Opening a gate on a horse is not the same as training your horse to open a gate!  Gates are a fun,  interesting and useful challenge to learn.  All horses, regardless of size, temperament or breed are able to master gates  if the rider understands the maneuver.

Horses hurried into performing the entire process are not as fluid, confident and harmonious as those given time to understand each step individually.  Continue reading Master the Rope Gate First

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