International Federation of Equestrian Tourism


The following is an article translated and edited from the French Tourism Association


Working Equitation is a discipline intended to preserve and develop equestrian skills related to herding and sorting cattle. It is an equestrian discipline practiced in a large number of European countries as well as in Asia and South America. This very broad geographic scope should be a major development factor.

Working equitation has a number of different objectives:


A Breeding Promotion Objective: Helping to select and give value to the best suited horses for professional usage in the cattle working sector.

A Cultural Objective: Passing on and promoting horse riding and training techniques used to herd and sort cattle.

An Economic Objective: Promoting the sale of horses in France, Europe and the rest of the world by developing equestrian activities based on working equitation techniques and by encouraging the use of horses in society.

The common riding skills the various countries concentrate on are:

  • •v  Specific horse training techniques.
  • •v  Riding a horse with one hand and simultaneously using a specific cattle sorting tool (garroacha, etc).
  • •v  Interpreting and anticipating the cattle herd's behavior in order to separate one or more of its members.
  • •v  The cultural dimension of the discipline and the various countries in which this activity is practiced are expressed in terms of:
  • •·         Professional techniques passed down from generation to generation
  • •·         Horse breeds that are specifically bred for this job in the countries concerned.
  • •·         The use of tack and equipment that is a characteristic feature of the culture in the considered country.
  • •·         The specific dress for each country.
  • •·         The specific language used when working the cattle.

The concern to preserve professional techniques and cultural practices has led to the creation of a sporting event intended to allow riders to compete on both sport and cultural terms and display the intrinsic qualities of their horses and the skills of their riders.

Over the past ten years, successive organizers at international meetings have carried out a considerable amount of abstraction relative to the reality of the cattle practice in their country in order to gradually allow this discipline to be molded into a "sport".

The intrinsic qualities sought in the HORSES are:

  • •v  Calmness.
  • •v  Balance
  • •v  Impulsion
  • •v  Submission
  • •v  Boldness
  • •v  An aptitude for working cattle

The skills sought in the RIDERS are:

  • •v  General ease
  • •v  Coordination skills
  • •v  Discretion in the use of aids
  • •v  Handling of specific equipment
  • •v  Perception of situations
  • •v  Correct interpretation
  • •v  Correct actions
  • The events making up these competitions are:
  • •v  A dressage phase
  • •v  2 handiness obstacle course phases (EOH and Speed)
  • •v  A cattle sorting phase



This sanctions the capacity of a pair to recreate a situation as an abstract chain, the movements usually practiced in a work situation with cattle. It shows the ease of the pair to promote the different movements identified.


1 The straight moving in gait and in gallop
2 The stop on the hindquarters from the gallop
3 The reverse or rein back
4 The lateral movements
5 The variances of amplitude
6 The roll-back in gait and at speed or gallop
7 The curves and inversion of curves
8 The flying changes

The valuation is resting on:

1 The control of the hand in the different exercises
2 The quality of the movement (rhythm, regularity, franchise)
3 The respect of technical agreement related to the movements
4 The general ease of the pair in the chain of exercises
5 The precision

  • They include a test of technical handiness and a test of time handiness.
  • •2.   Technical handiness

This is a test of dressage while clearing obstacles. The obstacles symbolize the difficulties, natural or not, subject to be met in working equitation (gate, jump, ditch, footbridge, …) The performance of the competitors is judged and noted in the same way as for the test of Working Dressage. It is an appreciated event. The criterions selected have to permit the valuation according to the professional efficacy.

  • •3.   Time handiness

This is the same event but measured in an objective way by the use of a timer. The goal is to promote the horses most manageable. The routes and the penalties applied for the obstacles demolitions must be such as to prevent any attempt to ‘pass with force’ which promote the tip speed, and not the handiness and would be contrary to the spirit of the discipline.



This is a timed test which must render an account of the professional skills of the competitors in their cattle handling.


The constraints of the test have to impose:

1 A calm approach of the cattle.

2 The isolation and the sorting of the cattle in respect of the integrity of the herd.

3 Conduct of cattle sorted efficiently and accurately.

4 Teamwork


The various parameters of which we can use to increase or decrease the difficulties of the cattle test are :

1 The grounds size

2 The size of the holding areas for cattle

3 The inclusion of passages required

4 The number of animals in the herd

5 The psychological disposition of the cattle and their age

         6 The time allowed


The definition of the constraints of the test must be such that the criteria of accomplishment listed above are absolutely respected. All supportive results showing the opposite would be a sign of inadequacy of the regulation to the spirit of the discipline.

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