Working equitation

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Cattle and Buttero in the Campagna Romana , 1899

Working Equitation , also working equitation, is a tournament discipline based on traditional riding styles. In the southern European countries of origin of the working style, the terms “Equitação de trabalho” (Portugal), “equitaciòn de trabajo” (Spain), “Monta da lavoro” (Italy) and in France “L'équitation de travail” are common.


The different ways of working have developed from the mounted work with cattle, as it has been practiced for centuries in southern Europe, especially Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. The colonialism brought the work riding styles to North and South America and Australia. From this, western riding, which is now popular all over the world, developed in America .

Cattle work on horseback in the Camargue

In the southern European countries of origin, typical horse breeds were bred, which have been improved over the centuries. The herds of cattle were hardly domesticated, in contrast to the American and Australian cattle, rather they were fighting bulls or cattle with wild behavior. The tasks of mounted cattle herders include driving or selecting the cattle. The horse breeds must be suitable for this. A shepherd's horse must be obedient, strong-nerved, reliable, quick, agile and permeable .

Traditional horse breeds

In southern Europe, the cattle are still mostly herded with the resident horse breed that is bred for the work riding style. Lusitano is used in Portugal . In Spain, both Andalusians and crosses with warm-blooded animals, so-called Crusados, are used in the Doma Vaquera . The French Gardians use Camargue horses to tend Camargue cattle .

In the Italian Maremma the Butteri Murgesen and Maremmanos ride . They also use Maremma Abruzzo Sheepdogs to work with Maremma cattle .

Modern equestrian sport and organization

With increasing modernization and industrialization, these ways of working, which are part of national cultures, threatened to be forgotten. The aim of the Working Equitation is not only to promote the riding style of each country, but also to preserve the traditions, riding clothes, saddles and bridles that are part of the cultural heritage of each nation.

In addition to the traditional horse breeds used in working equitation nowadays, basically all breeds are used, from small horses to cold bloods. The national regulations usually provide that the national horse breeds are promoted and used.

Based on the international umbrella organization World Association for Working Equitation (WAWE), attempts have been made in national associations, clubs and working groups to develop regulations that correspond to traditional working methods. The aim was to host national tournaments and championships as well as European and world championships. Working equitation has meanwhile also found widespread use among riders in Central and Northern Europe.

In Germany there has been the Working Equitation Germany (AWED) group since 2008, which, as a pioneer, established Working Equitation as a new national tournament discipline.

In 2012, the Working Equitation Deutschland eV (WED) association was formed, whose organizational structure is based on the WAWE umbrella organization and acts as the official representative of WAWE in Germany. There are two sets of rules in Germany, the official set of rules of the WED eV and that of the AWED. As a representative of WAWE in Germany, only WED eV is allowed to host the German championships. The WED is responsible for selecting and naming national coaches within the framework of WED eV and team leaders; Together they are then responsible for the nomination of the technical staff and the riders who make up the national team and represent Germany at European and World Championships.

Disciplines and classes

There are competitions in different classes, with each competition consisting of up to four individual disciplines. The final result is calculated from the sum of the points achieved in the individual disciplines. The disciplines include classic dressage, which serves as the basis for working equitation, the trail, the speed trail and cattle work, i.e. the selection and separation of a cattle from the herd, similar to cutting in western riding. The competitions are judged by judges who are trained in working equitation.

Dressage according to WED rules

In the beginner class (E) and in the beginner class (A) the lessons in walk, trot and canter are required. The focus is on the calm, relaxed riding style with cleanly ridden transitions , the purity of the gaits paired with serenity , momentum and dynamism. The seat , the influence of the rider and the correctness of the aids as well as the obedience of the horse. In the easy class (L), backward straightening, external canter and simple canter changes are also required. In the medium-difficult class (M), lateral movements , the flying change of canter and traversing at the trot are also shown, although the curb is permitted.

In the advanced class (S) - also known as the master class - all tests are ridden with one hand on a bare curb. Aids using weight aids and leg aids are required, and the horse must be brought to the hindquarters . Lessons from the Grand Prix are ridden , so in addition to traversing trot and canter, step and canter pirouettes are also required.

Dressage according to AWED regulations

There are four classes in working equitation dressage. While in the beginner and beginner classes (WE 1 and WE 2) all 3 gaits (walk, trot, canter) are ridden, in the advanced and master classes (WE 3 and WE 4) there is only step and canter. In the beginners' class (WE 1), a dressage task is required which corresponds approximately to the level of an E - dressage. Essentially, the three basic gaits and the backward direction appear in dressage. The beginner class (WE2) is a bit more demanding. The dressage task corresponds approximately to the A - L level in the classic area, with no reinforcements. These include simple canter changes, short turns and forehand turns , as well as backward pointing. You can also ride on a double bridle with 2 pairs of reins. There is then a big jump to the advanced class (WE 3). This only differs in the two-handed reins management from the Masterclass (WE 4, one-handed on a bare curb), which corresponds to the international level. Here you can only ride at a walk or a gallop. In addition to step pirouettes, step and canter traversals, flying canter changes , transitions from the collected tempo to the middle canter and vice versa, stops from the canter, backward canter and canter pirouettes are required.

Trail and speed trail

In the style trail, various tasks such as slalom around bars and barrels, backward pointing , riding over a bridge, jumping, opening and closing a gate on horseback, etc. must be completed in a given order in different gaits, similar to a serenity test . The obedience of the horse, doing tasks in a confined space and the permeability of the horse are the focus.

The speed trail is required in the higher classes, especially from class L. The focus is not only on the stylistically correct and clean riding style, but also on time.

Cattle labor

In cattle work (in tournaments only for classes L, M and S) the task is to separate the specified cattle from the herd in the shortest possible time. In class L: to drift across the coral line, In classes M and S: to drift into the coral and ring the bell. In classes L and M: 2 cattle, each 120 seconds. In class S there are 3 cattle, each 120 seconds. In addition to the speed trail, cattle work enjoys the highest public impact. The cattle work can be counted as part of the overall test or separately (depending on the announcement of the tournament organizer). Riders / pairs of horses who want to take part in a cattle test must prove that they have participated in a preparatory cattle course. For this purpose, an official certificate from a WED-approved cattle trainer must be presented.

Web links

Commons : Working-Equitation  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  • Angelika Graf, Christine Gräper: Working Equitation - Trail Training. Graf, Bruckmühl 2011, ISBN 978-3-9814641-0-8 .
  • Angelika Graf, Christine Gräper: Working Equitation - Basics. Graf, Bruckmühl 2014, ISBN 978-3-9814641-2-2 .
  • Manolo Oliva: Fascination Working Equitation: dressage, trail and cattle work. blv, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-8354-1163-0 .