A new discipline, based on building the trust and relationship between horse and rider, has been launched in the UK for the first time this spring and looks set to attract a following of dressage enthusiasts and everyday riders alike.

Already popular in Spain, Portugal, France and Italy, working equitation emphasises the development of harmony and, in its competitive form, is made up of two phases at two levels – novice and intermediate. All riders perform a freestyle dressage test, which at novice level asks for walk, trot canter with progressive transitions and leg yielding exercises and is performed in a 20 x 40 dressage arena.

The intermediate level is more demanding and among the movements required are rein back, flying changes and counter canter.

Riders at both levels are then asked to demonstrate their horsemanship by tackling an obstacle course (sponsored by Balanced Horse Feeds) with a series of challenges for horse and rider, including crossing a wooden bridge, opening a gate and a small jump over straw bales.

A series of working equitation competitions are planned throughout the summer, with a championship to follow in August.

It is anticipated that this will have a wide appeal to all riders – both affiliated andunaffiliated -as there is no requirement for horses or riders to be registered.

Training days, which will be overseen by advanced dressage rider Char Lassetter have also been announced – on 24 February and 25 March 2001 – at Pachesham EC, Leatherhead, Surrey.

Demonstrations of the sport have also been planned at a number of venues in UK this year, including the HORSE Roadshow in Solihull on 14 April, Equus 2001 at London’s ExCel (19-22 April), Suffolk Show (31 May) and the John Lassetter Lecture/Demo tour at various venues throughout the south of England (14 -21 August).For more information contact: Working Equitation, El Bustan, The Drive, Ifold, West Sussex RH14 OTDTel: 01403 – 753755

See HORSE magazine March issue for behind the scenes feature and full information on how to get started in the sport