Working Equitation originated in Italy, Portugal, Spain, and France as a way to showcase horses used in the field and for ranchwork. The fourth and final test of Working Equitation team competitions is the Cow trial, during which horses and riders must work as a team with other combinations to sort and pen a cow.
The Cow trial takes place in an enclosed rectangle (minimum size of 70 meters by 30 meters). During this trial, a team of three or four riders work together for each rider to separate a pre-selected cow from the herd one-at-a-time and move it across the enclosure to a demarcated pen. Each combination has three minutes to cut and herd their pre-selected cow. Combinations who fail to herd their pre-selected cow to the demarcated pen are disqualified from the trial and receive zero points.
The non-selected cows must be contained behind a line throughout the Cow trial.
The fastest individual overall time (including any time penalties added) is placed highest in the Cow trial.
At this time, most Working Equitation competitions in the United States do not offer the Cow trial. Shows will begin to offer this trial as the sport continues to grow in popularity. The Working Equitation Cow trial is never offered at the Introductory level.