The relationship between a horse and a rider is one built on trust, body language, and training. A newer style of exercise, called working equitation, was offered in Meadow Lake this past weekend and several members of the Prairie n’ Forest (PnF) Equestrian Club took part.
The three-day session started Friday, July 6 at the legacy arena at the Meadow Lake stampede grounds, and wrapped up Sunday afternoon. Working equitation was originally created in Portugal, Spain and Germany, and was based on the traditional values of working in the field and handling cattle. This the second time the event was held in Meadow Lake.
The sport includes four components. The first is classical dressage – working the horse through movements like trots and turns and jumps. Then there is ease of handling, with obstacles typically found in the field such as gates, bridges, or branches. The third is working these exercises in a timed round, which tests the rider’s capabilities to maintain composure with the horse. The fourth element, which is less common in North America, involves sorting cattle in a team.
Interest in the sport is fast-growing in Canada, according to clinician and horse trainer Kim Jungman who facilitated this weekend’s class. She said working equation is a good test to see where strengths and weaknesses are in the relationship between horse and human.
“My biggest hope is to improve horsemanship,” Jungman said. “I like to help people create partnership and have a better harmony between them and their horses. We want them to be able to work together in a relaxed way.”
Working Equitation Canada is a national organization, and a few provinces have them as well. Jungman said she’s eager to see a local chapter open in Meadow Lake, given the high amount of interest locally.
“The great thing about the sport is that it’s available to anybody, all breeds and all disciplines,” she said. “It’s a welcoming sport that everyone can learn and grow from. We’re hoping to also have more competitions in Saskatchewan too, there’s only one this year in Moose Jaw.”
Jungman added she was impressed with the amount of learning and progression which took place in Meadow Lake over the weekend, and a lot of confidence was built.
PnF president Renée Marshall said the club, among group activities and fun days, tries to host one or two learning clinics a year. She said she enjoys the practical applications working equitation provides.
“It’s really a competition against yourself,” Marshall said. “It’s not so much me against you, it’s just working on skills.”
Club member Jackie Giles said she got a lot out of the clinic. She took part last year, but wanted to do it again with a different horse, one she wasn’t quite used to yet. Valkarie was a racing and jumping horse in the past, so it’s a new skill for both.
“She’s more ready to do it than I am,” Giles said. “This is helping us get used to each other, and I’m glad for the experience.”
On Twitter @ReporterKath
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