these are the original points written prior to new rulebook, they will be updated soon to match new rules. 

7.1    Judge’s Role

The spirit behind the discipline of Working Equitation is training for horses that work in the field.  Strict criteria must be maintained to ensure that the spirit of the discipline is preserved. 

The task of judging involves:

•·         Thorough technical knowledge of the discipline.

•·         Communicating effectively with people (owners, riders, trainers, sponsors).

•·         Managing time constraints.

•·         Resolving problems quickly and effectively.

•·         Maintaining an image of concentration, determination, and respect.

Working Dressage is not the same as standard competitive dressage or western dressage and should not be judged in those contexts. It is dressage (i.e., training) for horses that work in the field.  The difference however does not mean lack of correctness.

Similarly, Ease of Handling is not the same as a trail class.  Maintaining the spirit of the test, i.e., working with cattle in the field, the horse must never lose impulsion.

The judge is directly responsible for the development of the sport and the future of WE.  Bad judging can ruin the competition.


7.2    The Marks

The role of the judge is to be as fair and as clear as possible.  The only possible way to do this is through the marks where the judge sends a message to the rider about how to work or what he/she wants to see.  Individual exercises and collective marks are designed to assess the capability of the working horse.  The marks are interpreted as follows:





Very Good


Extra quality shown in basics, on top of correctly fulfilling criteria of movement.



Fairly Good


On the right track with both basics and criteria.






At least one major problem in basics or criteria.






Very Bad

Serious or multiple problems with performance in basics, criteria, or both.


Not executed

Collective marks for dressage and EOH are as follows:


Correctness, freedom and regularity.


Willingness to move forward; elasticity of the steps; suppleness of the back; engagement of the hindquarters. (Eager yet controlled energy – not speed.)


Attention and obedience; harmony; lightness and ease of the movements, acceptance of contact.


Position and seat of the rider.  Correct use and effectiveness of the aids.  (Invisible aids: no kicking or pulling; do not want to see the effort; horse should look easy to ride.)

The EOH phase also includes a collective mark for:


Crisp, accurate transitions between gaits.

The collective marks must be consistently applied; e.g., it is not logical to give an 8 to the rider if the score in submission is 6.

Use the whole scale of marks – reward excellence and punish bad performance.  Negative marks (anything below 5) need to be explained on the score sheet to help the rider understand the insufficiency. 

The issue is to determine what is correct vs. what is not correct.  Anything not correctly done can receive a score no higher than 4.  A score of 4 is enough to give the rider the message that the movement is not sufficient. 

It is better to stop a rider and give a penalty (error) for an exercise not performed rather than give a 0.  The rider gets a chance to re-do the exercise and learn from the experience.  Errors must be marked on the score sheet and explained. 

The judge must initial any changes made on the score sheet.

7.3    Guidelines

Judging guidelines noted in some of the exercises include:

Horse is contracted, behind the vertical

Mark no higher than 5

No bend or incorrect bend in horse

Mark no higher than 5

Horse is not on the bit

Mark no higher than 5

Horse is resistant

Mark no higher than 5

Irregular gait

Mark no higher than 5


Mark no higher than 5

Loss of diagonal in rein back or dragging feet in rein back

Mark no higher than 5

Late behind in change of lead

Mark no higher than 5

Step back during halt or transition to halt

Negative mark (e.g., 4)

Lateralized walk

Negative mark (4)

Lack of clear, 3-beat canter

Negative mark (4)

Back legs moving together in change of lead

Negative mark (4)

Refusal or knocking down an obstacle (EOH)

Negative mark (4)

Use of voice (indicates lack of technique)

Lower mark in submission.

Latitude should be given for lower level competitors.  Do not give negative marks unless there is a clear mistake.  An inappropriate change of lead is a 4 however, even at L2.

Judging guidelines for execution of obstacles in the EOH phase are presented in Appendix B.



8.1    Officials

8.1.1    Show Manager.  The Show Manager is responsible for the management of the WE competition.  He/she ensures that all necessary show personnel are in place and properly trained, designs (or approves the design of) the EOH and Speed courses, and is present throughout the competition to facilitate the show operation.

8.1.2    Show Secretary.  The Show Secretary is responsible for maintaining competitor scores in the database and publication of results.  He/she must make public the individual scores and their rankings within 2 hours of phase completion.  The score sheets will be available to the competitors after awarding of the WE Championship.  The Secretary will retain a copy of all score sheets.

8.1.3    Judge(s).  There may be more than one judge for each phase, however, the same judge(s) must be used for all phases.  A judge cannot be permitted to judge if he/she is an instructor of a competitor, or is either the breeder or owner of a competing horse.

8.1.4    Scribe.  Each judge will have a scribe for every phase of the competition.  The scribe will document the judge’s comments on the score sheet for each test, as well as annotate times for the Speed and Cattle Handling phases.

8.1.5    Gate Steward. The Gate Steward coordinates the competitors’ entrance into the arena based on their entry order.

8.1.6    Paddock Steward. The Paddock Steward inspects each competitor, verifying correct equipment, tack, and attire, as well as the condition of the horse before and after the competition. Competitors with inappropriate equipment/attire will be given the opportunity to correct the deficiency and will be placed at the end of the scheduled ride order.  Final authorization of the tack, attire, and condition of the horse is the duty of the judge.

8.1.7    Ground Crew.  A ground crew (typically 2 or 3 individuals) stands by the arena to replace lances, rings, reset rails, etc. after each test, as well as move obstacles (if necessary) between phases.

8.1.8    Timers.  During the Speed phase, automatic timers will be used if available.  As a backup precaution and if automatic timers are not available, two individuals with timers/stop watches will track each entry’s elapsed time.  

During the Cattle Handling phase, two individuals with timers/stop watches will track each rider’s time taken to pen a designated cow.  Times for each test will be reported to the scribe for entry on the score sheet.

8.1.9    Runner.  Runners take the score sheets from the Scribe to the Scorers or Show Secretary after each test.

8.1.10  Scorers.  Scorers add up the points accrued (factoring in any coefficients), subtract points for errors, verify the accuracy of the final tally, and give the completed score sheets to the Show Secretary.

8.1.11  Foul Line Judge.  In the Cattle Handling phase, a judge is placed at the foul line with an unobstructed view of the entire line to identify riders and/or cattle that cross the line inappropriately.

8.2    Obstacle Course Design Considerations

The safety of the horse and rider must be foremost when considering the course design.

Design obstacles for all levels at the same time. L1 might use (for example) obstacles 1 thru 6; L2 obstacles would use 1 thru 8; L3 obstacles would use 1 thru 10; etc.  This saves time by eliminating the need to move obstacles around for different levels, and enabling one walk-through for riders at all levels.

Obtain the judge’s approval for obstacle design/construction and course design before the course is officially posted. 

Prepare extra copies of the course design for judges, scribes, and ground crew.

Do not use the arena gate as the official In/Out gate.  Place In/Out flags inside the arena.

Allow enough room in front of the In gate so riders can set up for the desired lead. 

Have the first obstacle some distance from the In gate to give the horses a bit of a chance to survey the surroundings before encountering the first obstacle.

Consider which lead the horse will have when leaving one obstacle heading for another.

When designing the course for the Speed phase:

•·         Design the course so that obstacles not used from the EOH course won’t have to be physically removed; only the numbers will need to be changed.

•·         Make sure the course is not set too tight:  consider placement/order of obstacles for horses going at speed.

•·         Eliminate those obstacles that can be subjective (e.g., raising a water jug).

•·         Eliminate any obstacles or portions of obstacles that will slow a horse down; e.g., only require one direction in the round pen, half-pass over a pole only in one direction, etc.

•·         Have the last obstacle in the course at the far end of the arena to allow a good run to the Out gate.

8.3    Course Walk-through

Before the start of Ease of Handling phase, competitors at all levels may walk inside the riding arena to examine the obstacles.   Judges will walk the course with the exhibitors and the course designer, if available, to answer questions.

No competitor may remain in the arena after the closing signal has been given.  The classes will begin no less than 20 minutes later.  No changes will be made to the course following the walk-through.

A separate walk-through may be conducted prior to the start of the Speed phase if necessary.

8.4    Order of Go

The order of go will be determined by a draw for the Working Dressage phase; the same order will be retained throughout the Ease of Handling and Speed phases.  If the Cattle Handling phase is included, a separate draw will be conducted (refer to section 6.3).

Entry order will be posted no less than 2 hours before the beginning of the first phase. Although a general entry time may be defined, competitors are responsible for monitoring the classes to make their entrance in the prescribed entry order.

8.5    Safety Precautions

It is recommended that medical personnel be on hand for the Speed and Cattle Handling phases.


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