I always think of Working Equitation as Trec PTV, done at speed! And with one hand only! Fortunately, it does start a little more calmly. I first came across the sport, when introduced to it by the lovely Lisa Bruin. I first met Lisa in Wales, when she was putting on Cowboy Dressage clinics. Another wonderful discipline which combines Western riding with classical Spanish riding, what could be more rewarding. Lisa has opened my mind to looking at different types of training and kinder training which negates the use of any harshness and links more directly to the mind of the horse. Some of Lisa’ courses, at her base in Norfolk, have even included hands on anatomy, where we have dissected a horse’s head and leg.
But I digress. My first introduction to Working Equitation was when I took Star to Top Barn, for one of Lisa’s courses (many of you will know about Top Barn and the lovely lasses who run that and keep us motivated and training all year round). Cutter had been in one of self-harm modes at the time. Star took a little time to get used to some of the obstacles but really tried her best. That scary, rope gate! Definitely a serpent, about to attack!
And so the years pass. Broken legs and Covid have detracted from my horsey activities, apart from the virtual challenges set by Top Barn and the Trec Clubs. At last, after more self-harm, this time by me, assisted by Cutter, (he’s usually involved somewhere!) I got to go to Top Barn for a clinic last September. It was such fun! Side-pass and rein-back in ‘L’ shapes. Canter an ‘L’ into a one metre corridor. Working up through the paces, Canter a seven metre confined circle, come out, pirouette, circle on the other rein. We didn’t try the pirouettes past walk! Whoops, a little problem with losing a stirrup in the video!
Then there is the Bull! He has a rubber ring between his horns and the task is, to pick up a long pole from a drum, canter (or walk, or trot) towards the Bull, pick up the ring on your pole and then continue to another drum, where you carefully deposit the pole and ring. Sometimes, you must do other obstacles whilst still holding the pole and ring. It’s probably best to try NOT to whack you horse across the ears or the bum, with either end of the pole. At the most advanced level there is an obstacle, where you canter into a narrow corridor, stop at the end, ring a bell, and reverse out. And you can’t do the bending in canter, unless you do lead-changes!
And so, when I heard that the lovely lady Holly Barber, Britain’s number one I do believe, was holding a clinic in Somerset last Saturday, I really felt I must go and give it whirl.
What I didn’t take into account, was the drive there and back. Flood, fire (low sun) and tempest! Nevertheless, we made it and met up with a couple of SW Treccies in my session, one of whom it seems was seriously into the sport. She said that we ought to go and put bits in our horses’ mouths, which we duly went and did. Poor Cutter, we don’t do bits these days. We could have trained in our bitless, as it turned out, but apparently bits are required for competition. In fact if you compete seriously, you have to wear your Country’s accepted riding habit. In our case hard hat, jacket, etc. Sort of dressagy stuff.
But you will see, if you Google the sport, the smart attire of the Portuguese and Spanish, who are the experts at this with their beautiful PREs.
I don’t think that I’ll be off doing Working Equitation in competition, but the training is really useful for Trec and for horsemanship in general. I’ve already booked in at Top Barn next year.