Sunshine and “Working Equitation” Raise The Temperature at Sao Paulo’s International Lusitano Festival
Sao Paulo, Brazil – May 25, 2006 – A little-known discipline in North America, Working Equitation, as the name implies, was originally designed to test the qualities, functions and movement of working farm horses at various levels. It’s a three- or occasionally four-phase discipline (the latter being optional cattle penning).
Working Equitation began as a competition in Italy in 1995, and one year later they hosted the first European Championships with just three nations. It is now a recognized and popular sport in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Brazil, having secured considerable following in each of these countries. In October 2006 the World Championships will take place in Lisbon, Portugal, at which nine nations are expected to participate. The sport has its own governing body in each of the member countries of the Working Equitation Federation.
For the first-phase dressage test, riders are given a series of movements that must be ridden as a freestyle test within a 20m x 40m arena. There is a set order for the movements and the test must be ridden within a given time limit although, unlike regular dressage tests, the Working Equitation rider has jurisdiction in terms of the time devoted to each gait and where they perform the transitions.
For phase two, Working Equitation’s governing body lists some 25 official obstacles that may be incorporated into the test in which
riders are required to negotiate their way around a course, with canter being the obligatory pace between obstacles. In true dressage fashion, judges take account of a horse’s regularity of movement, transitions, execution of lead changes, submission to the aids and confidence, as well as their presence and finesse. The rider must demonstrate good position in the saddle, precision in performing each exercise and the use of aids, as well as the exclusive use of one hand (for intermediate level and above). Each obstacle carries a maximum mark of 10 points, using the same classification parameters as regular dressage tests: 10 – Excellent; 9 – Very good; 8 – Good; 7 – Quite good; 6 – Satisfactory; 5 – Sufficient; 4 – Insufficient; 3 – Quite bad; 2 – Bad; 1 – Very bad; 0 – Did not perform.
A time limit, between four and six minutes, is allowed, depending upon the length of the course, and based upon a regular pace of 250 meters/minute, and the course is open for riders to walk in advance of the competition.
At the higher levels riders are encouraged to adopt a personal “uniform,” which is often in the style of the Spanish picadors, with close-fitting trousers for men and high-waisted long skirts for women, worn under bolero jackets and black sombreros. Like a jockey wearing racing stable silks, the chosen outfit must be declared and cannot be changed in the same season. Their horse’s tack and harness must also comply with the chosen style.
The popularity of Working Equitation is growing in Brazil, in particular due to the high profile their Lusitano horses enjoy and their working origins in the bullring which has produced horse with very light paces, extreme agility, fantastic balance and power over their hindquarters, combined with courage and an amazingly calm, amiable temperament. The same is true of other Baroque breeds such as Andalusians and Lipizzaners, the latter known for their ability to perform high school dressage movements.
The Working Equitation competition opened on the third day at the International Lusitano Festival in Sao Paolo Brazil which was blessed with warm sunshine. Thrilling the crowds with their gymnastic agility, riders’ first test was to “parallel park” between two close-set rails, ring a bell, then rein back – seven or eight regular steps – to exit the obstacle. They proceeded to a jump over hay bails, then circumnavigate a sheep fold, clockwise and anti-clockwise, inside a picket fence. The first transition from canter to walk came to safely negotiate a wooden bridge, then resume cantering before pulling a lance from a barrel with which to dislodge two balls from two- and three-foot high cups set in line. After the lance had been returned to another barrel, the rider proceeded in lateral walk along the length of an eight-foot pole on the ground, then once again in canter followed a serpentine pattern through a line of slalom poles, appropriately changing their lead with each directional change. The final obstacle, other than for the most advanced riders, was a cantering figure eight around two barrels, with similar changes of lead, before exiting the arena.
Naturally, the most exciting performances came from the higher levels, and at the end of the first two phases, Rogério da Silva Clementino led the senior category riding Victor Oliva’s 12-year-old Navarro, bred by Alberto E. Josémanuel Resina. His score of 69.52% gave him a small but clear margin over runner-up Luis Carlos Oliveira riding the seven-year-old Sobreiro da Cachoeirinha with 66.43%.
In the intermediate category, Bruno Ricciluca led with Loendro, ahead of Setimo do Top ridden by Ricardo Nardy Silva. This horse was also being ridden by a First-Year Beginner. A popular favourite, however, due to its unusual coloring, was the third-placed Othelo do Retiro, a blue-eyed, pale gold palomino who was ridden in true picador style by Marcelo da Silva Alexandre who finished within easy striking distance of the leader going into the final phase.
Second-Year Beginners: 1 Vicente Paulo de Souza riding Talento DPC 62.05%; 2 Bruno Ricciluca riding Turque do Recreio 59.62%.
First-Year Beginners: 1 Rafael Gruman Santos riding Tarza da Prata 60.77%; 2 Roque Praxedes riding Sétimo do Top 60.00%.
Under-19: 1 Rodolpho Narezzi riding Ulisses do Castanheiro 59.67%; 2 Rodolpho Narezzi riding Legendario II 59.67%.
Kids: 1 Fabio Rogério Lombardo Jr., riding Sobradimho Ozorno 61.33%; 2 João Marcos Martins Bueno riding Original do Ipê 57.67%.
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