Western riding disciplines
The sport of Western Riding came about as a direct result of the working cattle ranches in the USA during the 19th century and their requirements to move, monitor and sort their animals quickly and efficiently. The work created its own form of dressage and highlighted the qualities of maneuverability, skill and speed which were evident in the western horse. In order to refine the training, several events were introduced and these now define the modern sport of western riding:
The horse is led to the judge who will examine the horse according to a well-defined set of criteria. The purpose of the evaluation is to select the best looking animals in order to promote improvement within the breed.
The horse is presented in hand and the judge examines the overall presentation of the horse and handler, not just the anatomy of the horse. The horse has to stand correctly and execute walk and jog and turns in control.
This test measures the condition, conformation, fluidity and regularity of the paces. The horses are presented in all three gaits on both reins. Riders must be properly dressed (western boots, western hat and a long-sleeved shirt buttoned to the neck) and the horses correctly tacked. If the rein is too tight or too loose, the horses head carriage too high or too low, then the combination are penalised.
Considered by many to be the dressage of the western world. The horse and rider have to perform a set routine which includes sliding stops, circles, rein back etc in lope and canter.
A horse and rider have to select one cow from a small herd of 10-20 and then the rider drops the reins and the horse has to prevent the cow from returning to the herd.
A team of 3 riders has to cut 3-5 marked cows from a herd and gather them in a pen - they cannot close the pen gate until all of their marked cows have been gathered inside.
The rider has to take their horse through a set course which includes obstacles which may be found out on the trail - bridges to cross, gates to open and close, logs to jump over etc.