Pedro Torres is the rider with more winnings in Working equitation in the world.
What is working equitation?
“It is a way of trying to bring into the competition arena, the riders who use the horse in their daily work with cattle. It started with Italy, France, Spain and Portugal – countries that still use the horse in the country. But we are trying to make it grow bigger. We have sent some trainers to Brazil, to Mexico, to England, and we now also have Belgium and Sweden, and we would like to have Australia.”
“Working equitation shows the culture of the country, so each country sould use its own equipment, the bit, the saddle, they use in their work. It is important that it shows different ways of riding horses, different cultures, which is very interesting for the public. It is a competition that has four stages. The first is dressage in a 40 x 20 arena– they can only use one hand on the reins. They only use the working gaits – walk and canter, not trot. The movements are the pirouettes, the half passes, the flying changes – singles not sequences.”
“Then the second part is manoeuvrability, in the arena they do exercises that they need in the field, for example, open the gate, pass over a bridge, jump over a straw bale, stay near a table and drink a glass of water, down a corridor, touch a bell and come back.”
“The third stage is speed – more or less the same obstacles, but at speed. The fourth stage is a team stage, where three riders stay behind the line while a fourth takes one beast out of the herd and gets it to the other side. The team that does it quickly, gets the best score.”
“This mix of dressage, or the classical way of riding with gymkhana, with cattle work, means that you need a very good horse. This is important to us because we think there are a lot of riders who don’t want to do traditional dressage, they can compete at a high level in working equitation but still play and be happy.” The Horse Magazine
The working equitation competition is divided into 3 phases which are designed to test horse and rider through a range of activities. It combines flatwork movements and obstacle tests, inviting horse and rider to deal with a number of obstacles similar to those encountered when riding and working in the fields. At international level a 4th phase is included in the competition-this comprises a cattle penning test. Overall, the competition aims to promote good horsemanship, and a level of submission and control of the horse. Working equitation can be enjoyed all year round, by riders and spectators alike, indoors or outdoors, and within the confines of an artificial surface riding arena.
Membership of Working Equitation UK (for both riders and supporters) is now available on an annual basis, starting January 1st. Members receive reduced entry fees to Working Equitation UK competitions and training days, and regular email newsletters of all that is happening in the world of working equitation.
Working Equitation began as a competition in 1996 with the first European Championships taking place that year in Italy. It is now a recognized sport in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, USA, Czech Republic and Austria. The sport is governed worldwide by WAWE (World Association of Working Equitation). Working Equitation UK is a founder member of WAWE. WAWE rules govern all international competitions. However each of the member countries has its own particular working equitation body which sets the rules for national competition. Currently working equitation is recognized by the National Equestrian Federations in Portugal, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Mexico and France.
Working Equitation UK was set up in Great Britain in 2000 to represent the discipline in this country, to organise competitions, encourage training and participation and to "spread the word" about the sport. The UK competed internationally for the first time in October 2002, at the first World Working Equitation Championships – the team of 4 riders (the only female team at the Championships) achieved 6th place. In January 2005 the team competed at the European Championships in Bracciano, Italy, taking overall 4th position, and in September 2005, in Almonte, Spain 2 individual riders from Working Equitation UK competed against the other European countries. The 2nd World Working Equitation Championships took place in Portugal on October 27th-29th 2006 - Great Britain were placed overall 6th. In 2007 the European Working Equitation Championships were held at Hartpury College, Glos, the first time the Championships had been held in a non-Mediterranean country. Portugal were once again European Champions; Gt Britain were placed 4th. In 2008 the European Championships took place in Arborea, Sardinia. The senior team were placed 5th, and the junior British team were placed 2nd. In 2009 the European Championships moved back to Portugal. In the town of Ponte de Lima, the British team finally achieved their first Senior Championship medals - they were placed 3rd overall. The most recent European Championships were held in Citta de Castello, Italy in September 2010 when Portugal again retained their title.
Every year several competitions and demonstrations take place around the UK. In the past, Working Equitation UK have organised high profile demonstrations at the following events, to bring the public’s attention to the discipline : HORSE 2001 (an equestrian day run by HORSE magazine at Solihull RC), 2 consecutive years (2001 & 2002) at Equus (major equestrian event at London Docklands). A team of Portuguese working equitation riders gave displays at the Hickstead Derby/European Dressage Championships (August 2003) and Royal Windsor Horse Shows (May 2004, May 2005 and May 2007).
There are various centres for working equitation around the UK including BHS riding schools Pine Lodge School of Equitation (Norwich, Norfolk), Meadow Brook Stables (nr Holbeach, Lincs), Castleview Equestrian Centre (Carnforth, Lancs) and Penn Llyn Classical Riding Centre (Gwynedd). There are also several freelance instructors around the UK offering working equitation. Working Equitation UK