As at 2019, Working Equitation clubs and groups have been independent and primarily using competition rules (or a variation) of a Working Equitation organisation outside of New Zealand.
Working Equitation New Zealand Inc is in the early stages of creating an organisational structure for Working Equitation for the purpose of adopting a set of New Zealand rules and developing judges to adhere to the principles of Working Equitation. WENZ Inc has adopted the Working Equitation Down Under (WEDU) rules to be used as a standard set of rules for the initial period until a New Zealand set of rules is developed.
Please see www.wedui.info documents page for the WEDU dressage tests (a description of the levels is provided below on this page and a more descriptive version in the WEDU rulebook link above).
In New Zealand competitions are held with 3 phases that comprise an overall score:
Ease of Handling Trial
Speed Trial (timed Ease of Handling)
There is a 4th phase, the cattle penning, for team events which is not typically seen in New Zealand, but may be considered in time as the growth of the sport and level of Working Equitation skills by participants increases.
Levels are defined by the rules used at the competition. Each club maintains discretion as to which levels/classes they will provide. WENZ affliated events are required to use the set of Working Equitation rules prescribed by WENZ.
These are basic descriptions of levels taken from the Working Equitation Down Under Rulebook (please see the rules document for the full text):
LEVEL 1 – LEAD LINE
This level is to introduce the Working Equitation sport to children, para-riders and beginner riders, in a safe environment. Handlers must be an adult. Assistance may be given by the handler where needed. This level is ridden at walk and trot only (There is no speed phase for this level).
LEVEL 2 – INTRODUCTORY
This level is designed to help riders to prepare for Preparatory level, allowing them to be independent but still able to have the help if needed. At this level the rider is allowed to be assisted on course by one chosen adult, who is allowed in the ring and may communicate verbally with the rider. The assistant may not lead the horse. This level is ridden at walk and trot only (There is no speed phase for this level).
LEVEL 3 – PREPARATORY
This level is designed to test the horse and rider combination’s competence at performing basic dressage figures and simple obstacles. Walk and trot are required in the Dressage phase. In the Ease of Handling phase, obstacles are performed at walk and trot. The speed phase is to be ridden at walk or trot only.
LEVEL 4 – PRELIMINARY
This level tests a competitor’s ability to demonstrate correct basics and geometry. Canter is required in the Dressage phase. In the Ease of Handling phase obstacles will be performed at trot, with canter between each obstacle. Lead changes may be canter/trot/canter.
LEVEL 5 – NOVICE
This level introduces lateral work and has an expectation of greater precision with horizontal balance of the horse. In Dressage, leg yield at trot, lengthened trot and canter-walk-canter transitions are introduced. In the Ease of Handling phase canter is required both between the obstacles and in the obstacles except for the slaloms, which are trotted. Lead changes may be canter/trot/canter or canter/walk/canter.
LEVEL 6 – ELEMENTARY
The Elementary level is designed to prepare competitors to compete at the upper levels. Some engagement is expected. The Dressage phase introduces more advanced movements which may include shoulder-in, quarters-In, trot stretchy circle, ½ turn on the haunches, shortened walk and trot, counter-canter. Lead changes in both the Dressage and Ease of Handling phases are simple changes (canter-walk-canter). Ridden predominately with two hands, however riders may choose to execute an obstacle one-handed in preparation for higher levels.
LEVEL 7 – MEDIUM
This level is designed to prepare horses and riders to compete at the higher levels. In the Dressage phase the horse is expected to show more collection and suppleness. Collected walk and canter, walk ½ pirouette, trot half pass, canter 10m circles. In both Dressage and Ease of Handling phases flying changes are required. Riders may choose to ride an obstacle one-handed in preparation for higher levels.
LEVEL 8 – ADVANCED
This upper level is designed to prepare horses and riders to compete at the international standard. The movements are performed with greater impulsion and collection than at Medium Level. Movements include canter ½ pirouette, extended canter, canter half pass. One hand must be used on the reins during all phases.
LEVEL 9 – MASTERS
Masters is the highest level and equals the WAWE [World Association for Working Equitation] international standard. The horse and rider should demonstrate harmony and coherence as a pair. To compete at Masters level, competitors must meet qualifying criteria. Changes of lead at canter must be flying changes and one hand must be used on the reins at all times during all phases.
The rider will initially select the level they believe is most appropriate for the horse and rider combination when they enter their first competition.
Once a horse and rider combination is registered as established at a given level, that horse or rider may not compete at any level lower than that level, except in Hors Concours. (If HC the horse and rider will not receive a placing). A horse and rider combination may remain indefinitely in their current level, there are no requirements to advance to the next level.
Each phase has a score that combines to give an overall score for the level/class of competition. Placings are determined by test scores which then earns a set number of points per placing.
Dressage scoring is marked on each movement in the test and collective (overall) marks are given for the rider and horse. Callers are allowed but there can be penalties allocated.
The Ease of Handling Trial allocates a score per obstacle based on how well it is completed under the expectation of the level/class of competition. Obstacles are numbered and must be completed in the order specified. Overall marks are also given for the rider, horse and course execution (between obstacles) taking account of transitions, lines, rhythm and additional expectations of the level/class of competition. The judge must be saluted prior to entering the start markers and after exiting the finish markers. Course errors (including but not limited to passing through the start/finish flags or obstacles in the wrong direction), break in gait, disallowed gait, and incomplete obstacles can occur penalty points or disqualification. Note that the course walk is the time to ask officials your questions about course directives in order to be clear on how to execute the Ease of Handling course.
The Speed Trial is a timed Ease of Handling round. Some completion requirements of the prior Ease of Handling Trial will not apply in the Speed Trial. Course errors, break in gait, disallowed gait, and incomplete obstacles can add on penalty time or result in disqualification.
National Federation Rules
Working Equitation is not affiliated with the International Federation of Equestrian Sports (FEI), therefore there can be a number of national organisations within a single country. Affiliation with an organisation determines the set of rules that will be used in events. To familiarise yourself with Working Equitation around the world, here are a selection of rules from national organisations:
Working Equitation Canada (source: http://workingequitationcanada.com/rules/)
USA Confederation for Working Equitation (source: https://www.confederationwe.us/rules/)
Working Equitation Down Under Rulebook (source: https://wedui.info)
The World Association for Working Equitation (WAWE) has a strong influence in the direction of working equitation worldwide. WAWE runs the competitions at world level, therefore top level competitors must be working within their set of rules and training to compete in all 4 phases.
WAWE Rules (source: http://wawe-official.com/we-rules)