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Working Equitation in the Foothills

Hear the word “equitation” and many horse enthusiasts think of a class judged on the rider’s form and effectiveness.  In reality, the definition of equitation is just the art and practice of horsemanship and horse riding. From there one could say, Working Equitation (WE) is the art and practice of horsemanship as it applies to the tasks that horses help people perform on the ranch.  While WE is an international sport originally pioneered by Italy, Portugal, Spain, and France, it is hitting its stride in the United States.  The first international competition was held in 1996 and then in 2004, the World Association for Working Equitation (WAWE) was established to govern the sport.  WAWE rules are used for all international competitions, but each individual country has its own rules for domestic competitions.

Working Equitation was formed to celebrate and showcase the horse and rider partnership with a foundation in classical horsemanship and the use of the horse in ranch work.  The sport seeks to support and allow countries to stay true to their own historical types of horsemanship, as well as working traditions and their traditional tack and attire.  Of course in the United States, that is a very diverse group with a melting pot of traditions and styles.  At local competitions you will see all shapes of saddles and styles of dress.

In the United States, Working Equitation competitions offer five performance levels to accommodate horses and riders at various stages of training: Introductory, Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, and Masters. The Masters level is the international standard of the sport.

In each level there are four trials or tests that are put together at a competition.  First, the Dressage trial consists of a test where collective marks are given for movements considering the horse’s impulsion, submission, and quality of gaits, as well as for the rider’s position and effective use of aids.  As with classical Dressage, each level builds upon the last and prepares the horses training for the next level.

The second trial is Ease of Handling, which applies the skills performed in the Dressage test to an obstacle course.  Each obstacle is given a score of 0-10 paying attention to the quality, ease, symmetry and geometry of the obstacles and transitions in between in light of what is looked for in the Dressage phase.

Third is the Speed trial which is often the horse and rider’s favorite, as well the spectators.  This phase takes a part of the same obstacle course as in the Ease of Handling phase, but time becomes the key component with time penalties being added for errors.

Finally, the Cow trial tests the ability of horse and rider pairs to work cattle individually and with a group of 3-4 horse and rider teams.  The objective is for each rider to individually sort, cut, and herd a pre-selected cow from the herd and then as a team herd the selected cow into a designated pen.  Due to the logistics of having cattle at an event, not all competitions have the Cow trial.

At the end of the competition, horse and rider pairs receive scores based on their placing in each of the trials, and then the scores are tallied to determine the overall placings.

Allison and Rosa

Over the past few years there have been a growing number of WE enthusiasts in the foothills.  Indian Hills resident Christina Turissini has been the force behind organizing lessons, clinics and play days for WE.

The foothills group started when Christina won a free group lesson from Allison Mazurkiewicz at a High Country WE event which resulted in bringing Allison to our area. Allison is excited to see this group flourish with regular clinics and advance in the sport. The Foothills group has a wide variety of horses and riders which makes her clinics educational for all, whether riding or watching.  Allison’s aim is to be an ambassador for the sport and spread the fun that is WE.  Allison competes up to the Intermediate level, holds an “r” judge card with the Confederation of WE (as well as holding a board position), is a member of WE United and is a founding member of High Country WE (created in 2014), who puts on several shows in Colorado every year.

Allison states, “Working Equitation requires you and your horse to work together as a team in a soft, fluid manner. As an instructor and trainer, I find the obstacle course an effective way to teach horses and riders how to focus and gain confidence in skills that might be new to them. The obstacles bring home the lesson of flat work training into everyday riding as a tool to improve your horse for any job you have them do.”

She goes on to mention, “students that have fear or confidence issues learn to focus on a task thereby reducing anxiety levels. The rider and the horse learn to perform something new and come together as a more confident team and are often more relaxed by the end of the lesson.”

Claire and Bitta

Local Claire Gosnell and her horse Bitta, an 11 year old Tennessee Walking Horse have been training and competing in WE since 2013.  Claire has found WE to be a great way to strengthen the horse and rider bond, as well as their communication in a powerful way.

Claire explains, “we enjoy all four phases of the sport. Dressage has helped develop collection, working from the hindquarters, soft feel, communication and precision. Working the obstacles is just flat out fun. Whether it’s working a gate, side-passing a pole or spearing a ring from a bull’s nose with a garrocha pole with precision or at speed, it has made us both a better horse and rider pair.  My favorite though is the cattle phase – the ultimate objective of WE.”

Whatever you do with your horse, WE has something you can use.  Jumping, Dressage, trail or western, WE touches on a part of your training.  Horses and riders can see the reasoning behind the flat work and doing obstacles adds an interest to schooling in the arena, plus WE creates a well-rounded horse and a confident rider.  2018 © Heather McWilliams

For WE information in the US, go to www.weunited.us and www.confederationwe.us.  Make sure to like the Foothills CO Working Equitation Facebook page (High Country Working Equitation too) for the latest on upcoming clinics and play days.  Contact foothills group founder, Christina Turissini at [email protected] and Allison Mazurkiewicz, Tall Grass Horsemanship at [email protected]  Mt. Falcon Equestrian is bringing in WE trainer Steve Kutie for clinics as well, see kutieperformancehorses.com/about and email Nicole at [email protected]

Summer Horse Calendar 2016!

Listed by Entity – Get out there with your horse!

Centaur Rising Horse Camps, Clinics & Shows

Anchorage Farm, 12889 S. Parker Ave. Pine, CO.  www.CentaurRising.org. [email protected] 303-838-5086.

July 10 – Centaur Rising Dressage Show I

August 2-4 – Dressage Camp

August 14 – Centaur Rising Dressage Show II

See website for remaining spots for:

Little Kids Camp/Basic Horse Camp

Basic Horse Camp/Intensive Horse Camp/Advanced Horse Camp

Little Kids Camp/Basic Horse Camp/Intensive Horse Camp

 

Colorado Horsecare Foodbank FUNdraisers!

See website for more info and to sign up online. www.horsefoodbank.org.  303-670-1470.

July 16 – Black Tie – Silver Shoes.  Enjoy an evening with horses at the Queen City Horse Show at the National Western Events Center in Denver.  Fine dining ringside, cocktail attire.

August 26-28 – Ranch Ride Weekend is a fundraiser with long-time CHF friends and supporters: Tom and Darcy Carr, owners of the beautiful Colorado Cattle Company – an authentic working cattle ranch in Northeastern Colorado. This year, Colorado Horsecare Foodbank and the Colorado Cattle Company are offering a late summer Ranch Ride weekend.  The Ranch Ride Weekend includes trail riding on the ranch’s 10,000 acres, learning to team pen cattle, delicious hearty meals, storytelling around a campfire, and charming accommodations where you can sit on the porch of your cabin and watch the horses & cattle peacefully grazing. The cost is $575 for the weekend – Registration is open.

October 14 – Hay Bales & Horse Tails – Amazing evening of food, fun and shopping for horse stuff!  At the Hudson Gardens cabin on Santa Fe Blvd in Littleton.  Sign up now, last year sold out!

 

Evergreen Ranch Sorters Association

Reffel’s Arena, Wandcrest Drive, Pine Junction.  Alternating Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-2pm.  For more information, go to:  the Facebook page at “Evergreen Ranch Sorting Association”.

Try as a guest for up to 3 times for a fee.  Come see why ranch sorting is the fastest growing equine sport in the country and fun for riders of all ages!

 

Evergreen Rodeo Association

RODEO WEEKEND!  EvergreenRodeo.com for full schedule. Volunteers still needed!  Don your cowboy boots and hat and enjoy the festivities while you help support this amazing local historic tradition!  Contact Marty Unger – [email protected]

June 17 Friday – Friday Family Fun Night Benefit for Tri-County Little Britches. 3:00pm and 10:00pm.  Great family event including Muttin Bustin’, stick horse races, barrel racing plus many more activities. Music by Arena Rock All Stars.

June 18 Saturday – Rodeo Parade, 10:00 in downtown Evergreen

June 18 Saturday – Rodeo Performance at El Pinal Rodeo Grounds 2:00 pm, Mutton Bustin’ and Pre-Show starting at 1230pm.

June 19 Sunday – Rodeo Performance at El Pinal Rodeo Grounds 2:00 pm, Mutton Bustin’ and Pre-Show starting at 1230pm.

 

Intermountain Horse Association

intermountainhorse.org or Facebook page “Intermountain Horse”

September 10 – Poker Ride at Alderfer Three Sisters Park.

Monthly meetings 3rd Tuesdays September – May at Beau Jos in Evergreen.  Various horse related topics.

 

Jefferson County 4-H Open Horse Shows

English, Western, Showmanship and Gymkhana classes.  More information, contact info and show bills at: http://www.extension.colostate.edu/jefferson/4h/4h.shtml

June 28 – Horsefeathers Show – El Pinal Arena (Evergreen) – Outdoor

July 9 & 10 – Pleasant Park Horse Show – McKeever Arena (Conifer) – Outdoor, 2nd day is the speed events (Adults can ride both days in this event)

July 17 – Golden Spurs – Jeffco Event Center Arena (Fairgrounds) – Indoor

July 24 – Fair Clinic – Table View Arena – Outdoor

August 7 – Pleasant Park Gymkhana – McKeever Arena (Conifer) – Outdoor

August 11 & 12 – County Fair – Jefferson County Fairgrounds – outdoor, only kids can compete

August 25-28 – State Fair – Pueblo

September 4 – Equine Event – Rodeo Arena, more info to come!

September 25 – 4-H Fun Show/Clinic – Table View Arena

 

Kip Fladland Clinic – All Disciplines Welcome

Kip’s website:  LaRiataRanch.com.  Hosted by Pikes View Ranch, Conifer.  Call Kelly Hendricks for more information 303-918-9570.  An encouraging and thoughtful teacher, Kip was born and raised in Montana. He has spent the last 30 years of his life working with and riding horses. In addition to riding horses for the public, Kip has also spent a considerable amount of time cowboying on several large Montana ranches. Working for these ranches would include starting colts, educating riding horses, and using them to care for and watch over the cow/calf operations. He met Buck Brannaman while cowboying and he spent 5 years with Buck on the road doing clinics.  Kip’s wife Missy is a top Dressage trainer.  Several of our mountain area horse people have had great experiences at clinics out east with Kip and wanted to bring him to Colorado for a chance for locals to participate.  Spaces are filling up, call Kelly today to sign up!

September 23-25

Ground Work Class in morningaddresses doing ground work exercises before riding towards the end of each class.

Horsemanship Class in afternoonsa riding class for all levels and disciplines of horses.

 

Starry Night Ranch – Riding on Faith Youth Camp

Llaves, New Mexico.  jubileehorse.com.  [email protected]  575-638-5661           
July 10 – 16  We are a horse lovers dream vacation, spending all day with our horses.  Youth campers will learn basic care, grooming, ground work and riding skills.  We usually ride twice a day and plenty of time in the saddle.

 

Syzygy Coaching

Evergreen, Colorado.  syzygy-co.com.   [email protected]  303-670-7244.

August 27-28 – Equine Vision Journey to Your Next Chapter – an equine guided personal growth retreat.

September – Extraordinary Women Connect Gala

November 10 -Extraordinary Women Ignite – Golden Hotel, Golden, CO

 

Tucker Black Horsemanship Clinics

Red Hawk Ranch, 12754 US HWY 285, Conifer. Check website for latest information. tuckerblackhorsemanship.com or call Tucker at 303-870-8389.

August 27 – Cow Working Clinic, 10am to 3pm

Most Sundays & some Wednesdays, June – September Cutting/boxing cows.

 

Working Equitation

Join on Facebook at “Foothills CO Working Equitation” or contact for more information Christina Turissini, [email protected]

Second weekend of the month – Lessons and/or clinics with Jennifer Holroyd.

Playdates during the month at various locations.

 

 

Working Equitation – It may not be what you think it is!

When I first heard of Working Equitation, I only heard the last word, Equitation and had flashbacks of rail classes growing up and in college.  Of uncomfortably hollowing out my back to get the right look for the judges.  Please forgive me Equitation stars, but that is my memory.  Then sometime this year, I saw a YouTube video on Facebook of Pedro Torres of Portugal on one of several fabulous Lusitanos he rides in an event called Working Equitation.  I was intrigued.  High speed, over and around obstacles with impeccable form and finesse.  It was kind of like Dressage, at high speed with obstacles.

Reviewing past information I had come across with my newfound knowledge of this sport, I realized that people in our community had already been honing their skills in Working Equitation (WE).

Italy, France, Spain and Portugal pioneered WE.  The discipline was created as a way to enhance the riding techniques developed in countries whose riders use horses in different aspects of ranch and fieldwork.  The goal of WE is to preserve and perpetuate each country’s style of equitation as well as their cultural traditions of dress and tack.

The first international competition was in 1996 and in 2004 the World Association for Working Equitation (WEWA) was established to govern the sport.  WE has continued to grow throughout Europe and is rapidly catching on in the Americas.  Christina 1 al sh100WEWA rules are used for international competitions, but each individual country maintains their own rules.

In WE competition, there are four trials or tests that make up the event. The first three, Dressage, Ease of Handling, and Speed, are required for both individual and team competitions. The fourth trial, Cattle Handling, is included for team competitions. It is mandatory at national championship competitions and encouraged at all other competitions when facilities allow. From the www.weiausa.com website:

Dressage – Dressage tests are ridden at each level. Each movement is given a numerical score, and collective marks are given for impulsion, compliance, calmness, rider’s position, etc. The dressage tests are designed to both test the horse and rider as well as to serve as an aid in training. The movements at each successive level build upon movements of the previous levels and coincide with the type and difficulty of movements expected in the Ease of Handling and Speed trials at the corresponding levels.

Ease of Handling – Obstacles are set up to simulate the difficulties encountered by a horse and rider in the field. Obstacles are numbered and are ridden in order. The goal of this trial is to negotiate the obstacles with accuracy, ease, and smoothness.

Speed – The obstacles utilized in the Ease of Handling trial are ridden at speed with no emphasis on style. Individual scores are based on elapsed time through the obstacles with time penalties added for mishandled obstacles. This trial is designed to test the rider’s co-ordination and capacity for anticipation in addition to the horse’s qualities of submission, speed, attention, and finesse.

Cow Trial – This trial tests the ability of a horse and rider to work, individually and as a team, with cattle. The test is performed with a team of 3 or 4 riders. The objective is for each rider to individually sort, cut, and herd a pre-selected cow from the herd and then as a team put it in a designated pen. As a timed event, there are time penalties for course errors.

Indian Hills resident Christina Turissini was seeking to get more involved in WE and found that most of the Working Equitation clinics and competitions were either north or south of Denver, leading her to start a local group.  To keep informed of local events coming up, find and join our group on Facebook under the name, Foothills CO Working Equitation.   The group is for any type of horse, rider or saddle interested in honing their horsemanship skills via the sport of Working EquitaWorking Equitationtion.  The news feed and “Files’’ section on the Facebook page is full of information about WE.  After creating the group, Christina has organized local clinics and individual lessons with Instructor Jennifer Holroyd.  In addition to the clinics, some of the members are hosting play days at their homes, which will continue through the winter months.

Jennifer Holroyd was born on a ranch in Portugal where the skills for Working Equitation were the daily standard.  She started competing in Show Jumping competitions at the age of 10 and eventually competed at the international level all over Europe.  In 1974 she married and spent 25 years in California where she taught and competed in Dressage, Combined Training and Show Jumping.  She is also considered a leader in the field of alternative therapies for horses including Chiropractic and an innovative technique using acupuncture points and sound vibration using tuning forks.

After attending a WE clinic in Indian Hills this September with Jennifer, I discovered that not only was she an excellent teacher for basic riding fundamentals, but the WE obstacles gave a focal point to many of the training maneuvers riders of different disciplines often strive to improve.  In a nutshell, this local group is focused on using Working Equitation as a basis for good horsemanship and technique in any discipline, Western or English.  In addition to the information on the local Facebook page, go to http://lusitanoportal.com/working-equitation. Also, at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in March 2016, look for WE clinics being put on by the northern WE group. Now, go watch a video of Pedro Torres and you will be compelled to know more about this fast growing discipline!  Heather McWilliams © 2015

Working Equitation Clinic 6 med Working Equitation Clinic Sept. 1 med (1)