Index of Working Equitation Terms

Below you will find definitions for common terms used in Working Equitation, listed alphabetically. The following definitions have been provided as an educational resource for people interested in better understanding the sport of Working Equitation. Please note: Competitors should consult the official Rules for official definitions as they relate to Working Equitation competition in the USA.


Bosal – The bosal is a type of hackamore noseband without a bit typically used in the Vaquero riding tradition. This type of headstall is accepted in Working Equitation competitions provided it is consistent with the overall tack and attire exhibited by the horse and rider and is made of a natural material, such as leather.

Bridge – A bridge is one of the obstacles that may be required in the Ease of Handling and/or Speed trials. The bridge must be made of wood and be of solid construction. It must have a minimum width of 1.5 meters (5 feet) and a minimum length of 4 meters (13 feet). The bridge must rise to a minimum height of 20 cm (8 inches) at the center. In the Ease of Handling phase, the bridge is ridden at the walk at all performance levels. During the Speed trial, horses and riders may navigate the bridge at any speed.


Disqualification (DQ) – A rider may be disqualified from a Working Equitation trial for a variety of reasons. If the rider is disqualified during a trial, the judge will alert the rider by signaling with the bell or whistle. The competitor does not receive points for any trial in which they are disqualified; however, they may continue to compete in the other trials. In the final placings, competitors who complete all three or four trials are placed above competitors who are disqualified from one or more trial.

Drums  – Also known as “barrels” in many parts of the United States. Drums may be used as a component of several obstacles found in the Ease of Handling and Speed trials.  In addition, there is an obstacle called “Drums” which typically uses drums or drum-sized objects set in an equilateral triangle 4 meters (13 feet) apart from center to center for Introductory, Novice, and Intermediate levels and 3 meters (10 feet) apart for Advanced and Masters levels.


Elimination – Certain behaviors may result in elimination from a Working Equitation competition, such as obvious signs of lameness or injury to a horse caused by mistreatment from the rider. Riders who are eliminated from a class may not continue to compete in any remaining trial and will not be placed for prizes in that class.


Flying lead change – A flying lead change is performed in canter or gallop and occurs when the horse switches from one lead to the other without interruption. When performed correctly, the horse changes leads in the front and back simultaneously in a single stride.

Free walk – A relaxd, four-beat walk in which the horse is encouraged to lengthen their frame forwards and downwards while overreaching their stride. The horse’s hind hooves should land in front of the hoofprints of the front hooves.


Hors Concours (HC) – Riders may apply to ride Hors Concours in Working Equitation competitions, which means their participation in the class will not be placed for prizes. Such rides will be for schooling purposes only.  The judge may score the rider; however, the rider will not be placed in the competition nor will they be eligible for any prizes, and their scores shall not be posted publicly. Show management may deny a request to ride Hors Concours if the number of riders makes such a request a burden on the competition.


Masters level – The Masters level is the highest level of Working Equitation sport offered internationally and in the United States.


Pirouette – The pirouette or half-pirouette is required at the Intermediate, Advanced, and Masters levels in both the Dressage and Ease of Handling trials. This movement is performed in walk or canter and requires a high degree of collection in which the horse’s front legs and outside hind hoof move around the inside hind hoof. The inside hind hoof forms a pivot point, returning to the same spot or slightly in front of it each time that hoof leaves the ground. The horse is bent slightly in the direction of travel and remains on the aids during the entire movement. In a full pirouette the horse navigates 360 degrees and exits on the same track from which they entered the movement.


Rein back – In rein back, the horse moves backwards prompted by the rider’s cues, moving diagonal pairs in unison in a two-beat rhythm. The horse should clearly lift their legs as they step backwards, not drag their hooves along the ground.


Salute – It is required for riders to salute the head judge at the beginning and end of all three Working Equitation trials. To salute, all competitors who wear a helmet shall salute the judge with a slight nod of the head and a sweep of the arm not holding the reins, or right arm if riding with two hands.  Riders who identify as male and choose to wear a hat instead of a helmet may doff their hat with the hand not holding the reins, or their right hand if riding with two hands. The horse should remain immobile in the halt facing the judge while the rider performs the salute.

Simple lead change – Canter, walk, canter. As outlined by the United States Equestrian Federation, three to five clear steps of walk should be demonstrated between the canter downward transition and the canter upward transition. No trot should be displayed.

Square halt – A horse is considered to halt square when, in the moment of immobility in the halt, the horse’s front two hooves align side by side and the horse’s hind two hooves align side by side squarely underneath the horse’s body. If observed from the side, the legs on the far side of the horse will be perfectly obscured by the legs on the near side of the horse.


USEF – USEF is the acronym for the United States Equestrian Federation.


WAWE – WAWE is the acronym for the World Association for Working Equitation, the governing body that presides over international Working Equitation competitions. At this time, the United States has not been accepted as a member country of WAWE.

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  1.  Chapter DR Dressage Division. United States Equestrian Federation. Retrieved