The Excitement Of Working Equitation
One of the highlights for me at the Luso Show at Moreton Morrell this summer was the Working Equitation. For those unfamiliar with the discipline, it's all about teaching the horse to cope with any situation be it turning fast on the tightest of corners, moving forwards, sideways or backwards... dealing with scary objects ... getting over them or round them ... And all done efficiently, easily and at speed! Developed by the Portuguese into a highly skilled sport, this was exciting, dynamic and wonderful to watch.
I have seen this discipline several times in the past of course... But this year's was different. First, because it was performed at night and second because for the first time, it was part of the Gala performance and with it came the crowds, the music and the Atmosphere!
What a difference this made. It was hugely entertaining to watch ... since, just as in show jumping on TV, we had the immediacy of the stop watch leading up to a great buzz as everyone strained to surpass the time of the person or persons before ... we also had the anticipation. And that, together with thrilling music, made it electric!
The great thing about WE is - anyone can do it. It's not altogether so different from the Handy Pony, we Pony Club kids used to love, but it's a lot harder and demanding of the horse. You do not have to have an Iberian, but it does help!
It was great also to see amongst the predominantly grey Lusos, a couple of Spanish, a Connemara pony and an Arab.
Also, I thought our British squad looked very smart and British - as so they should! - in traditional British gear, hard hat, tweed jacket, shirt and tie and beige breeches. In former days it was a real mish-mash, with some in Portuguese tack and varied attire, whilst others conforming to nothing. Somehow the 'fancy dress' as some called it, detracted from the whole thing.
British WE owes a great deal to Sherene Rahmatallah who believed, trained and raised money for it from day one. She and her talented daughter Leila were a familiar sight at many a competition for the squad both at home and abroad and coming back with honours.
Now it's the turn of the younger generation, many of whom are yet to accomplish one-handed, but with the careful coaching of those who have gone before and trainers Paul and Georgia Santos who come over regularly from Portugal - I foresee this ancient discipline growing and growing.
The next time you'll see our British WE squad in action will be at the Spanish Show in two weeks time. At the end of the Luso Show a moving tribute was made to Holly Barber's almost legendary horse, the 16 year old Safa, beautiful Lusitano gelding who has done so much not only for Holly and Sue Barber and of course Pinelodge, but also for the future of Working Equitation in this country and all over Europe.
Everyone involved should be proud of themselves.