ABWE Rules


The Present Rules take effect from the 1 January 2022 - they are subject to additions and amendments which will be notified to all interested parties.



There are two types of membership available.


Full – Anyone who wishes to compete at more than two National competitions throughout the year needs to be a full member.


Supporter – Anyone who wishes to compete at Regional competitions needs to be a member. Supporter members may purchase up to two tickets during the year in order to compete at National competitions.


Tickets – Riders who are not full members but want to compete at up to two National competitions during the year can buy a ticket. There are two types of ticket, one allows the competitor to compete at one National competition (£20) the other allows the rider to compete at two national competitions (£30).

Tickets can be purchased at the time of entering a competition or at any time throughout the year.




ABWE maintain appropriate public liability insurance. Membership of the association does not entitle members to any personal public liability or personal accident coverage. Members are strongly recommended to take out appropriate personal insurance policies.


We ask that our members respect the following requests in order to maintain a heathly atmosphere within the sport.

- Show proper respect for laws governing copyright and fair use/dealing of copyrightes material

- Be aware that publication of information and comment on social media carries the same obligations as any other kind of publication and should follow the same ethical and legal standards.

- Defamation of ABWE or any of its associated parties on public forums will be acted upon by the board. 


Code of conduct

The following guidelines are in place to highlight antisocial behavior which will not be tolerated at any ABWE event. Any ABWE member or associated person who is deemd to be behaving inappropriately may be subject to refusal of membership, removal of membership or disqualification from competition.


- Conduct themselves in a manor which is offensive to the public.

- Cause disruptance to other peoples experience and enjoyment of the sport. 

- Argue, threaten or use abusive language towards any ABWE person under any circumstances. 

- Behave inappropriately whilst under the influence of alcohol.

- Intimidate or impinge fellow competitors.

- Tolerate or be involved in discrimination of any kind. 





Each Working Equitation competition is made up of three phases. A Dressage test, Ease of Handling test (with obstacles) and Speed test (with obstacles). Some competitions may include a Cattle test as a fourth phase but this is rarely included at National competitions.


1.1 Competitions


1.1.1 National Series Competitions

a) Official National Competitions are those organized by ABWE

b) There are certain criteria that all ABWE competitions must adhere to.  They must offer more than 3 levels of competition (Junior, Novice, Intermediate and Advanced).  They must be split in to at least two days and there must be minimum of one fully qualified National judge. Competitions in the National series count towards the National Championship for which riders may qualify for the final to gain National or Reserve National Champion title.


1.1.2 Regional Series Competitions

a)  Regional Competitions are those that are organized either by ABWE or by another party under the umbrella of ABWE

​b) There are certain criteria that all Regional competitions must adhere to. They can offer one or more levels of competitions (walk and trot, novice, intermediate, advanced, Juniors) and can be run on one day or split in to two level. There must be a minimum of one Regionally approved



1.1.3 Final of the National Championship

The final of the National Championship will take place at the end of the main competition season and adheres to the same rules and principles as a National competition.

Riders must have competed in at least 4 National competitions throughout the year, the points from the 3 highest placings achieved

at those competitions will count towards the final total which will include the points from the final, this will then determine final placings for the championship league.


1.1.4 Training competitions

Training competitions are not official competitions. They might not be judged by a qualified judge and may involve only one or two phases.



1.2 Levels 

There are six levels of Working Equitation competition.

- Walk and Trot (at regional level only)

- Novice Level

- Inter B

- Inter A

- Advanced Level

- Junior (under 21) 


a) Horse and rider combinations may only compete at one level at any competition.


1.2.1 Walk and Trot Level

Open to horses and ponies of any breed, stallion, mare or gelding, horses and ponies must be four years old or over, all horses and ponies must have a legal passport and they are to be ridden with reins in two hands. 



1.2.2 Novice Level

Open to horses and ponies of any breed, stallion , mare or gelding, horses and ponies must be four years or over, all horses and ponies must have a legal passport, to be ridden with reins in two hands. 


1.2.3 Inter B Level

Open to horses and ponies of any breed, stallion, mare or gelding, horses and ponies must be five years or over, all horses and ponies must have a legal passport, to be ridden with reins in two hands. 



1.2.4 Inter A Level

Open to horses and ponies of any breed, stallion, mare or gelding, horses and ponies must be five years or over, all horses and ponies must have a legal passport, to be ridden with reins in two hands. 



1.2.5. Advanced Level

​Open to horses or ponies of any breed, stallion, mare or gelding, horses must be a minimum of six years old or over, all horses and ponies must have a legal passport, to be ridden with reins in one hand (left).


1.2.6. Junior Level 

Open to riders under 21 years (to be 21 years on the 1st January in the year they are competing) horses and ponies may be of any breed, stallion, mare, gelding and must be a minimum of five years old.  All horses and ponies must have a legal passport and are to be ridden with reins in both hands. 


1.3. Legal Identification Documents of Horses

A legal passport must accompany each horse or pony at any competition and must be readily available for presentation to competition officials. 


1.3.1. Vaccination Programme

a) First vaccination - two should be given within a minimum of 21 days and a maximum of 92 days apart, followed by one vaccination after 6 months.  

b) Re-vaccination one annual booster, dependent on individual venue requirements. 

c) No horse or pony should attend a National competition less than 7 days after a vaccination

d) All vaccinations must be listed in the horse's passport


1.3.2. Competing Internationally 

a) All horses travelling abroad to International competitions must have vaccinations in compliance with FEI regulations.


1.4 Horse welfare

a) Farriery and tack – foot care and shoeing must be of a high standard. Tack must be designed and fitted to avoid pain or injury. 

b) Good horse management – stabling, feeding and training must be compatible with good horse management and must not compromise horse welfare. Any practises which could cause physical or mental suffering in or out of competition will not be tolerated.

c) ABWE officials may refuse entry of any equine in to competition should they feel that it is not fit to compete.


1.5. Entries for Official National Competitions

​a) Entries for all events should be made via My Riding Life or directly with the event organiser. 



1.6. Riding Dress and Tack 

​a) Riders must adhere to the rules regarding traditional dress and tack (as listed in annex 1) otherwise entry in to the competition can be refused. 

b) The use of any other items of tack not mentioned is prohibited. 

c) A double bridle, Pelham or similar is allowed in Novice, Inter B , Inter A, and Junior level competition. A Pelham with a single rein must be used at Advanced level. A Snaffle or other single rein bit may be used in Walk and Trot, Novice and Inter B Levels. Two reins must be used with a Pelham bit in levels ridden with two hands. 

d) Saddle pads are allowed but in order to be correct should not be visible. 

e) Walk and Trot, Novice, Inter B, Inter A and Juniors may carry a whip.  A whip is not allowed for Advanced riders. 

f) The following also applies:

Dressage test - protective and overreach boots are not allowed 

Ease of handling - protective boots including over reach boots are allowed and must be black or brown. 

Speed - protective boots including overreach boots are allowed and must be black or brown.  

Cattle Test - protective boots including over reach boots are allowed must be black or brown. 

g) Ear bonnets, nose nets and goggles are permitted in competition.

h) All horses and ponies must be plaited for all three phases.

i) Riders must always wear an approved safety helmet when mounted. Beaglers are not allowed. Riders may also wear any other safety equipment including air jackets and back protectors.


1.7.  Rules of the Warm Up Arena 

a) The warm up arena is for the rider’s preparation of their horses before their entry in to the competition arena

b) The warm up arena may be monitored by paddock officials. 

c) All competitors must respect the orders of the paddock officials 

d) No other person is allowed in to the warm arena except the grooms/helpers and trainers of the competitors 

e) The warm up arena is an area for quiet working in - riders conduct must not jeopardize other riders. Riders must pass left to left.

f) Any breach of conduct will be reported by the paddock officials or to the President of the Jury


1.8. Prizes 

a) Rosettes will be awarded at all official National competitions any other prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the individual event organizers. 




2.1 ABWE board members

Georgia Shone – Chairman and General Secretary.

Holly Barber– Shop manager and Rider Representative

Fiona Price-Jones – Judges Representative 

Sarah Baldwin - Treasurer


Competition officials

a) Competition officials are those who are directly or indirectly involved with any competition. 

b) All these officials are subject to the disciplinary rules of ABWE. 


2.2 Organising Commissions

Organising commissions together with ABWE co-ordinate a competition 


2.2.1. Rights 

Organising commissions can set the specific terms of a working equitation competition as long as it has the express consent of ABWE. 


2.2.2. Obligations 

all organising commissions must provide good competition facilities for horses and riders. 


2.2 Judges 

a) There are three types of judge:

i) A Candidate judge is one that is undergoing training and has been approved by ABWE to judge at training competitions and/or Regional level.  

ii) A National judge is one who has undergone training and has been approved by ABWE to judge both Regional and National competitions.

iii) An International judge is one that has undergone international training and has been approved by both ABWE and WAWE to judge at International level competitions. 


b) Official competitions in the National calendar will be judged by either a minimum of one National/International judge or two National judges.  

c) When there are large numbers of entries different judges may be allocated for each level or phase


2.2.1. Rights 

a) The Judge must be in an isolated and comfortable position so that he/she can carry out his/her duties in an impartial manner. 


2.2.2 Judges obligations

a) All judges must follow these rules 

b) The President of the Jury has maximum authority in the absence of the President of the ABWE at a competition and it his/her duty to ensure the smooth running of the competition. 

c) The President of the Jury must direct any complaints made by competitors. 


2.2.3. Position 

a) During the dressage tests the President of the Jury is placed at C, other judges may be placed at H, M, B or E.  

​b) In the ease of handling the judges must be situated so that they can clearly see all the obstacles. 

c) In the Speed the President of the Jury is situated in the secretary box so long as it has a clear view of the whole arena and the other judges are situated around the arena. They must have a method of direct contact with the President of the Jury. 

d) In the Cattle Test the President of the Jury must be sat at the secretary's table and the others are situated around the outside of the arena with a method of direct contact with the President of the Jury. 


2.3 Competition Delegates 

An official from ABWE must be present to regulate every Regional and National Competition according to ABWE rules. 


2.4. Secretaries/writers 

Every competition will have a General Secretary

a) The General Secretary is responsible for the addition, timing and verification of the results during the tests and the smooth running of the competition.


2.4.1. Role of the General Secretary 

a) To be a credible and impartial person when carrying out his or her duties.

b) In the role he/she is to implement the rules of ABWE

c) He/she is to be positioned in a suitable position to carry our his/her duties. 


2.4.2. Duties and Obligations of the General Secretary 

a) He/she is responsible for the order of entry, for the release of results and for the preparation of the judges' folders

b) He/she must process the judges' marks, arrange the timing for the Ease of Handling and Speed test and determine through the marks the final classification

c) Is responsible for notifying the order of entry for the Dressage tests to competitors a minimum of two days before the start of the competition. 


2.5. Paddock Commission 

The paddock commission are chosen by ABWE 


2.5.1 Rights

a) The Paddock Commission is compromised of impartial and trustworthy individuals.  

b) Members of the Paddock Commission are situated in the entrance of the warm up arena in order to carry out their duties. 


2.5.2 Obligation of the Paddock Commission 

a) Co-ordinate the competitors in the warm up arena 

b) Inspect the clothing and tack, ensuring the correctness and accordance with traditional British Dress and Tack. 

c) Control of each competitor as they proceed from the warm up arena to the competition arena. 

d) Monitor the conduct of the riders.

e) The Paddock Commission must declare any irregularity to the President of the Jury 



2.6. Riders 


2.6.1. Rights 

a) A rider may compete in the same class with a number of different horses as long as he/she attempts to complete all phases with both horses. 

b) Any rider has the right to complain to the Jury.  A written complaint must be accompanied by a fee of one hundred pounds.  If the complaint is upheld the fee will be returned, if the complaint is rejected the fee will not be returned. 

d) All competitors have the right to receive a written reply to their complaint. 

e) Minors must be represented by their parents or a responsible adult. 


2.6.2. Obligations 

a) Competitors must complete the ABWE entry form in full 

b) Competitors must respect the rules and accept decisions made by the Jury and Paddock Commission.

c) Riders must follow the order of entry 




3.1. General 

3.1.1 Veterinary Inspection 

a) A veterinary inspection may be carried out before or during any National Competition with a view to verify

i) the state of health of the animal (namely if shows lameness or a wound that might impede its performance)

ii) its documentation - if the vaccinations are up to date and if the animal corresponds to the description of its identification document. 


3.1.2. Order of Entry

a) The order of entry is the responsibility of the Competition Secretary

b) If the competitor participates with more than one horse there will be a minimal interval of 20 minutes between each of his tests. If there are less than 8 competitors in the class the competitor will be allowed a length of time equivalent to that interval. 

c) For the Speed tests the order of entry will be in reverse order according to the placings following the Dressage and Ease of Handling tests i.e. the lowest placed rider will be the first in the Speed test.  In the case that this is not possible, the order will follow the same order of entry as the Ease of Handling. 

d) When the Ease of Handling and the Speed tests are on the same day the order of entry may remain unchanged. 

e) The order of entry should be displayed at least two hours before the start of each test. 

​f) The competitors have one minute after being called to enter in the ring, at the end of which, if they do not appear, they can be eliminated at the discretion of the President of the Jury. 

g) The same elimination occurs if after the bell the competitor takes more than one minute to start his test. 


3.1.3. Marking System. 

​All the tests have a system of judging 

​a) In the case of the Dressage tests the judges give marks for the exercises listed on the dressage test sheet, penalty marks, up to a maximum of three are also given for errors

b) In the Ease of Handling test the judges give a mark for each obstacle completed.

In this test and the Speed test non-completion of one of the obstacles will result in immediate disqualification of the competitor. The rider must have begun the next obstacle before the judge can ring the bell and eliminate them.

c) In the Speed test the points are given according to the time score with the relevant penalties and bonuses.  The time keeping should be affected with at least two separate pieces of equipment. 

d) In the Cow test the marks are given according to the time spent in separating and penning the selected cow together with the addition of any penalties. 

​e) In the case of tests judged by members of the Jury awarding points i.e. the Dressage and Ease of Handling the marking can be done by completing sheets listing the exercises or by an individual electronic system given to each judge linked to the table.  In all cases the written mark prevails. Marks 

​a) in the Dressage and Ease of Handling all the exercises are marked by the judges and points are awarded.  The obstacles are numbered and defined in the protocol of the test. 

b) The exercises of the dressage test are marked 0 - 10 according the following scale 

10 - excellent 

9 - very good 

8 - good 

7 - fairly good 

6 - satisfactory 

5- sufficient 

4 - insufficient 

3 - fairly bad 

2 - bad

1 - very bad 

0 - not performed 

c) In addition to the marks defined in paragraph b) the judges will be allowed to use multiples of half a mark (e.g. 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 etc) in the Dressage and Ease of Handling tests, collective horse and rider marks are awarded to the participants at the end of their test varying between 1 and 10 points. The collective marks have a co-efficient of either one or two in the Dressage test and a co-efficient of one in the Ease of Handling test. In the Ease of Handling test there is a mark in which the rider executes the overall course i.e. the course he executes between the obstacles, this mark varies between 1 and 10 and has a co-efficient of two. 

d) The judges classify the horse by the following criteria - amplitude and regularity of the paces, ease of the transitions, execution of flying changes, submission to the aids, nature of approach to demands of the course, position of the outline when performing the different obstacles. 

e) The judges should classify the rider by the following criteria - position, correct execution of the exercises, correct and effective use of the aids, and in advanced the use of reins in one hand. Co-efficient

a) All the tests have the same points in the general ranking as follows:

dressage test - 1 

ease of handing test - 1 

speed test - 1 

cow test - 1

b) The points attributed to each competitor are made in the following way:

first position n+1

second position n-1

third position n-2 

fourth position n-3 etc. 

n being equal to the number of competitors in each class. In the final ranking there will be no tied positions of competitors see e) of this section. 

c) Competitors eliminated in any of the tests will have zero points in that test but will be able to compete in the subsequent tests and qualify for placings.  

d) Competitors that withdraw within the middle of the tests, even if they have received any points, will not qualify for any placings nor have a right to any prizes. 

e) In awarding the general ranking of test or day (individual) the first criteria to consider is the number of tests finished by the competitor, then from amongst the competitors with the same number of completed tests the points of the different tests are added. In the case of a tie with regards to the number of points the final positions will be determined by the marks in: 

1st Dressage test 

2nd Ease of Handling test 

3rd Speed test

The competitor who has the highest percentage or lowest time will be placed ahead of his direct adversary 

f) In the case of the tests for teams the score of the Cattle test is also added.  Only the teams three best results in each phase will be counted using as a base, the percentages of the Dressage test and the Ease of Handling test, the times of the Speed test and the quickest members of the team in the Cow test.


3.1.14 Amendments on the Score Sheets/Marks not given

a) All amendments/corrections made by the judge on his score sheet should be initialled by the respective judge, if this does not happen the General Secretary will not release the mark in dispute until it is validated by the judge that gave it

b) If a mark is omitted on a score sheet the General Secretary will award a mark for the respective exercise which is the average of the marks given by the other judges, rounded to a whole figure. 

c) In order to award a mark of zero there must be unanimous agreement amongst the judges. If this does not happen the secretary will not release the mark and report to the President of the Jury who will call a meeting of the judges to clarify and resolve the situation. 


3.1.14 Dismounting of the rider during a test.

If, once the rider has entered the arena they dismount for any reason seen acceptable to the judge they will be allowed to continue at the judge’s discretion.


3.2 Dressage Test 


3.2.1 The Arena and its Surroundings 

a) The rectangle where the dressage test takes place must have an even surface, preferably with a sand or artificial surface, it may be grass so long as it is not very hard or slippery. 

b) The arena will be 20 x 40 meters and will be marked by boards. 

c) If the test is held in an indoor arena the edge of the arena can be the sides of the arena.

d) The entrance to the arena will be approximately two meters wide and situated in the centre of one of the short sides of the rectangle at the point opposite the position of the President of the Jury. 

e) It is not obligatory to close the entrance to the arena

f) The judges must be positioned as defined in paragraph 2.2.3

g) The competition arena and warm up arena should be provided with an interlinking public address system (National competitions).  

h) The President of the Jury must have a bell in which to signal the start of each test, any fault that occurs and also the end of time limit allowed for each test. 

i) The public must be kept at a minimum distance of 3 meters from the arena, they must be kept far enough from the arena so as not to compromise the performance of the riders.

j) There should be a warm up arena as near and as similar to the main arena i.e in respect of surface and within range of the sound system. 


3.2.2. Exercises and the Test Levels 

a) Dressage test consists of an established number of exercises that must be performed by the riders.

b) Each error will result in the subtraction of two points for the first error, four points for the second error and elimination for the third error. If an error occurs the President of the Jury will ring the bell and advise the competitor of the error.  The competitor must recommence the test at the point of the faulty exercise in accordance with the protocol. 

c) Competitors are not allowed to use their voice in the Dressage and Ease of Handling tests.

d) The test ends after the salute to the judges.

e) The competitor’s entry into the arena will be singled by the President of the Jury ringing the bell.

f) The salute to the Jury will always be carried out from the halt. 

g) After each test and after each judge has given his marks, the test sheets will be passed to the General Secretary for the co-efficient to be applied and the marks to be added. 

h) The results of each competitor are on public display and notified on the public address system. The tests sheets are made available at the end of the competition or when authorized by the President of the Jury. 


3.3. Ease of Handling test


The objective of the test it to emphasize the competence of the rider and horse in overcoming obstacles quietly, accurately, with style and regularity.  The obstacles replicate difficulties which they might find whilst working in the field. 


3.3.1 The Arena 

​a) The place where the Ease of Handling test takes place must have a flat surface, free of stones, with either a sand or artificial surface.  It can be grass or earth, so long as it is not hard or slippery. 

b) There are no minimum dimensions for the arena.  However the ideal dimensions are 70 x 40  meters bounded by a fence with a height between 50 and 150 cm.  

c) If the test takes place in an indoor arena, the edge of the ring can correspond with the sides of the arena (or barrier at the edge)

d) The entrance to the arena will be approximately 2 meters wide and can be situated at any point. 

e) It is not obligatory for the entrance to be closed during the tests

f) The course comprises the arena and the route of obstacles defined in 3.3.2.

g) The judges occupy their positions in accordance with 2.2.3.

h) The public are to be separated from the course by at least 5 meters if possible.  If it is not possible, the public should be kept as far away as possible, so as not to compromise the performance of the competitors. 

i) There should be a warm up area, as near and as similar as possible to the competition arena, in respect to the surface, and served by the public address system. 

Note: The reference in 3.3.1 also applies to the Speed test (paragraph 3.4)


3.3.2 Exercises and Development of the Test

a) Before the test begins, the competitors may walk the course to familiarise themselves with the difficulties of the course and of the obstacles (defined in 3.3.3).  The course will be open for a least 15 minutes to registered riders and trainers.  The President of the Jury or the General Secretary will signal the opening and closing of the course by means of a bell or spoken communication. 

b) After the closure of the course, no competitor will be able to remain in the ring, and nothing can be altered on the course.   

c) The President of the Jury will ring the bell to signal his authorization for each test to begin.  After the bell has rung, the competitor has 1 minute to begin the test.  If he fails to observe this time he can be eliminated. 

d) Whenever competitors use a Vara (pole) these are supplied by the entity responsible. A lighter Vara may be provided for younger riders/children. 

e) The competitors who use their voices in any way to control their horses can be penalised, with a deduction of 2 points for every use of the voice.  



3.3.3 Obstacles and the Course of Entry and Exit

a) The obstacle means a difficulty that must be crossed by the rider

b) Some obstacles are bounded by markers or flags (red on the right and white on the left).  These indicate the entry and exit of the obstacle. 

c) To complete the obstacle, the rider must:

- pass between the two flags of entry in the correct direction

- complete the technical manoeuvre as required by the obstacle

- exit the obstacle through the exit flags 

- the flags of entry and departure of a given obstacle may coincide

d) The Obstacles are numbered according to the order in which they must be completed, with a number on the right side of the entry flags.  

e) The lines of entry and exit of obstacles are usually marked with white and red markers, like flags.  They may also have the letter S and F to indicate the line of 'Start' or 'Finish'

f) Any of these obstacles can be constructed and decorated in such a way as to enhance the spirit of the competition, whilst safeguarding a good performance. 

g) The obstacles are chosen by the course delegate and he/she, also creates the course. 


3.3.4 Course Error (Ease of Handling Test)

a) A course error and the inability to perform an obstacle will result in the elimination of horse and rider.  The reasons for the elimination are:

- Missing out an obstacle

- Entering an obstacle without passing through the entry markers

​- Not performing the obstacle correctly

- Not completing the obstacle

- Not leaving the obstacle through the exit markers

- 3 refusals or more than 30 seconds to begin the obstacle

b) Points to highlight

i) When performing the rein back slalom, if the rider knocks either the first or third pole therefore making it impossible for him/her to begin/complete the obstacle, the rider must dismount, replace the pole, remount and then begin the obstacle again from the beginning. If the middle pole is knocked over the rider does not need to dismount as long as it is possible for them to perform the rein back around the outside of the pole as it should be performed. (this rule also applies in the speed)

ii) When performing the sideways pole, if all 4 of the horses legs leave the “zone” of the pole marked by the flags the rider must re enter through the entrance flags and begin the obstacle again. (this rule also applies in the speed)



3.4 Speed test


​The speed test shows the capacity of the horse and rider with regard to submission, speed, attention and athletic skill of the horse. 

a) In this test, riders' placings are based on the time taken to complete the course, taking into account penalties (additional seconds) that are added on for knocking down any obstacle and bonus seconds that are added on for collecting the ring. 

​b) The Speed Test is made up of similar obstacles used in the Ease of Handling.  

​c) The time starts when the rider passes through the visors at the beginning and stops when the rider passes them again at the finish. 


3.4.1. Aspects of some Obstacles

a) Balls can be placed on the following obstacles which will fall when the horse touches part of the obstacle:

- straw bale jump

- Bell at the end of the corridor

- "L" shape rein back 

- Side step over a pole

b) The Vara must be placed in a well-balanced barrel

c) The solid construction gate can be substituted by a rope gate. *Please note: if the rider drops the rope at any time whilst performing the obstacle they can pick the rope up from the “hinge” end whilst still mounted if they wish to do so rather than dismounting.


3.4.2 Penalties and Bonus Points in the Speed Test

The 3 Barrels

knock down a barrel: + 10 seconds

wrong direction around the obstacle: immediate elimination

Wooden Bridge

Inability to cross the bridge: immediate elimination

Any damage to the obstacle: + 10 seconds

Simple or Double Slalom 

Knock down a slalom pole: + 10 seconds

Wrong course around the slalom poles: elimination

Jump over straw bales

Knock down the pole on the straw bales: + 10 seconds

Chicken Pen

Any damage to the obstacle: + 10 seconds

If the horse places 4 feet outside of the chicken pen anywhere other than at the "entry" or "exit": elimination.


knock down a side of the gate: + 10 seconds 

Any damage to the gate: + 10 seconds

Bell at the end of the Corridor

Damage to any part of the obstacle: + 10 seconds

Failure to touch the bell: elimination

Rein Back "L" Shape 

Knock down part of the obstacle: + 10 seconds 

Sidestep Pole on the ground

Touching of the pole : + 10 seconds

Pick up vara from a Barrel

Failure to pick up the vara: elimination 

Failure to pick up the vara again after it has fallen onto the ground: elimination

Knock over barrel: + 10 seconds

Replace Vara in Barrel 

Failure to replace the vara: elimination

If the vara falls but the rider dismounts and picks up the vara there is no penalty 

If the barrel is knocked over before the vara is replaced, the rider must dismount to stand the barrel back up.

Knock over the barrel after replacing the vara: + 10 seconds

Note: if the vara hits the bottom of the designated barrel, and then falls out of the barrel, it still needs to be replaced inside the barrel. However, if the barrel falls over but the vara remains inside the barrel the rider does not need to dismount. If it is not replaced in the barrel, the obstacle is considered to be incompletely performed.   If the pole comes out of the barrel, the rider must dismount, pick up the vara, replace it in the barrel and continue onto the next obstacle.  the same applies if the vara falls out of the rider's hands at any point along the course. At advanced level the rider must remount holding the vara and replace the vara in to the barrel whilst mounted.

Pick up Ring with Vara 

Pick up ring: - 5 seconds (bonus) (so long as it is placed back in the barrel with the vara)

Knock down the supports: + 10 seconds

Note: if a rider dismounts and mounts it must be without help of a 3rd person (except in walk and trot level)

Inability to mount the horse: elimination


3.5. Reasons for elimination in each phase


3.5.1 General 

a) Delay of more than one minute after being called to enter the arena 

b) Entry into the arena before being called

c) Delay for more than one minute after the bell rings

d) Blood on the horse, caused by the riders use of bit or spurs, or any unhealed wounds. 

e) Maltreatment of horse by the rider

f) Advanced level only - Use of right hand in front of left hand to adjust reins.  It can only be used behind the left hand to shorten the reins at Advanced/International level.

g) Incorrect tack or dress

h) If a rider falls off his mount

i) Any exterior help (including vocal) 

j) Use of substances e.g. cream or sprays etc to camouflage wounds


3.5.2 Reasons for Elimination in the Dressage Test 

a) If a horse leaves the arena with all four legs.  

b) Refusal to perform a movement for more than 10 seconds

c) Violation with regard to the rules regarding the use of the whip

​d) Failure to follow the order of movements


3.5.3 Reasons for Elimination in the Ease of Handling and Speed Tests

a) Crossing of an obstacle once the bell has rung to begin test. 

b) An error in the test, without correction (see article 3.3.4) 

c) Three refusals on the same obstacle

d) Failure to pass through the visors

e) Refusal of more than 30 seconds to perform an obstacle

​f) Obvious showing of an obstacle to the horse or attempting an obstacle before the test has begun

g) Complete destruction of an obstacle, its markers and number

h) Crossing an obstacle - this rule may be adapted according to the course and arena size, at the discretion of the president of the jury.

Note: in the instance that collecting the vara, hooking the ring and replacing the vara are all included as one obstacle it would be assumed that circling the first barrel in order to assist in collecting the vara would be crossing the line of the bull before completion, this is allowed up to Advanced level. At advanced level circling the first barrel could be cause for elimination.

I) Passing start and finish visors in the middle of the test.




4.1. The Arena 

a) The arena for the Cattle Test consists of a 70 x 30 meters (minimum) rectangular shape which must be flat, without stones or any objects that may cause harm to the riders or their horses. 

​b) The surface for the Cattle Test should be a natural surface i.e. grass, earth or sand, so long as it is not too hard or slippery. 

c) Each side of the rectangular arena must be closed in an appropriate way to provide adequate safety.  The use of special railings for the containment of the cattle is recommended. 

​d) A sketch of the arena is referred to in annex 3. 


4.2. The Draw for the Cattle Test

a) The draw for the marking (by colour or number) of the cows should be done once the cattle are in the containment zone, in the presence of the chef d'equipes.

b) At this point, the order of entry of each team will also take place.


4.3. The Structure of the Cattle Test

a) In this competition, the four riders of the same team must co-ordinate their ability to separate the herd of cattle - one rider after another (in an order fixed by the jury) with 4 designated cows (one for each rider) must herd the appropriate cow into the marked zone, isolating it from the rest of the herd. 

b) Each of the four members of the team manages their try in a similar way, trying to separate one cow from the herd.  In each attempt to separate the cow, the other team members help to maintain the rest of the herd in the containment zone, but they are not permitted to cross the line, which only the team member who is attempting to split the herd can cross. 

c) Once the cow has been separated from the herd and taken out of the containment zone, one or more riders can help the rider who is responsible for that cow to get it into the catchment box. 

d) The cows chosen for each team are identified clearly so that there are no doubts.  The test ends when the selected cow has reached the catchment box and the rest of the herd are in the containment zone. 

​e) The limit time to separate a cow is 3 minutes.  If the time passes 3 minutes and the rider is unsuccessful, the rider is eliminated and does not get any points. 

​f) The chronometer starts when the rider enters the containment zone and begins to separate the cattle and continues until the selected cow has reached the catchment zone.  

​g) The rider has 1 minute after the President of the Jury rings the bell to begin the cattle trial. 


4.4. Classification 

​a) The riders are placed on the basis of the time taken to complete the test and will be penalised for any mistakes committed. 

b) The classification of the cattle test corresponds to the total of the points accumulated by each team member. 

​c) The winning team has the highest number of points


4.5. Penalties

a) A variable penalty is applied (depending on the number of cows in the herd).  Each time a cow (with exception of the designated cow) crosses the line of the containment zone, the following is applied:

Herd with a minimum of 6 cows - penalty of 20 seconds per cow

Herd with 7 - 12 cows - penalty of 15 seconds per cow

Herd with more than 12 cows - Penalty of 10 seconds per cow

b) In the same way, a penalty of 10 seconds is placed each time a team member crosses the containment zone line before the cow has been separated and left the containment zone.  

c) The test can be interrupted if the time taken and the penalty time exceeds 3 minutes

d) Each time and undesignated cow leaves the herd, it must be put back into the containment zone. 


4.6. Safety of Cattle and Horses

​a) Riders may not adopt any behavior that may result in danger or physical danger to the horse or cattle, as this will result in elimination for abuse. 

b) The objects used to guide the cattle must not provoke or harm either their horses or the cattle.  Any sight of blood caused by the riders use of the object used to guide the cattle will result in the elimination of the competitor. 





Riders' Dress and Horses' Tack 

The British Working Equitation outfit originates from the dress used in the hunting field.  A tweed jacket (may be replaced by a black or dark blue show jacket at Regional competitions and up to Novice level at National competitions) worn with a white shirt and a coloured stock or tie.  Cream jodhpurs are worn with a pair of black or brown leather boots (or alternatively black or brown leather jodhpur boots and leather chaps).  The rider may use a pair of English spurs that are attached to the boots by a leather strap.  Dark coloured or beige gloves should be worn. A BHS approved hard hat must be worn at all times when mounted. The pole used to round up the cows in the Cattle Test is a Vara.


Other additions to tack/equipment


Breastplates, Breast girths and cruppers

Neck straps, balancing straps (loop on front of the saddle) are permitted in all levels except advanced.

Running martingales are permitted at Walk and Trot and Novice level.

Ear bonnet and nose nets


Not permitted:

Draw reins, side reins (can be used in the warm up arena)

standing martingales.

Blinkers or any kind of tongue straps.



Bits of rubber, nylon or other synthetic material are allowed as well as mixed metal bits.

Fixed and loose ring snaffles are permitted.

Bit guards are allowed.


Bitless bridles, hackamore or similar are NOT permitted.























Telephone:  213.888.3303

The Association for British Working Equitation