Cattle Trial



Ease of Handling






Cattle Trial

The fourth and final test of Working Equitation competitions is the Cattle trial, during which horses and riders must work as a team to sort and pen a designated cow.

The cattle trial is optional. If offered, the Cattle trial is scored separately and takes place in an enclosed arena with cattle-appropriate fencing (a minimum size of 230 by 100 feet is recommended).

During this trial, a team of three or four riders work together as each rider separates a designated cow from the herd and moves it across the enclosure to a holding pen.

Each person has 3 minutes to cut and herd their designated cow. Riders who fail to move their designated cow to the holding pen within the three minutes allowed receive “no time” (and therefore no points/awards) for the trial.

The fastest individual overall time (including any time penalties added) places highest in the Cattle Trial.

For the most up-to-date information on the cattle trial, please refer to the most recent update of SECTION 8. CATTLE TRIAL in the United States Rules for Working Equitation (Rulebook). The Rulebook takes precedence over information on this website in the event of any discrepancies.


Cutting the designated cow from the herd.

Kris Blacklock in Cattle Trial

Teammates help hold the cattle in the containment zone while the competitor is cutting their designated cow from the herd.

Once competitors have moved their cow out of the herd and across the containment zone line, their teammates help to move the cow into the holding pen at the other end of the arena.

Cattle Trial Team

The clock stops once the designated cow is fully in the holding pen (pictured here), the rider’s horse is outside the pen, and the rest of the cattle are all behind the containment zone line.

The cattle trial is a wonderful test of the partnership between horse and rider.

Cattle Trial Disqualifications

Some reasons that competitors might be disqualified from the Cattle trial include:


  • The rider crosses the foul line before the Judge has given permission to proceed.
  • A team member crosses the foul line, starting the clock before the rider does.
  • Team member crosses into the herd zone and stays for more than 5 seconds.
  • Time runs out after the selected cow is penned but there are herd cows in the penning zone and/or horses in the herd zone.
  • L6/L7 riders or anyone riding with a spade bit using two hands on the reins other than for a brief adjustment.
  • Unnecessary roughness (severe use of reins/spurs) – the Judge has the right to disqualify a competitor for excessive roughness.
  • Roughing. Includes but is not limited to:
    • Unnecessary or aggressive behavior toward horse, cattle, or herd holder.
    • Contact, running over, stepping on, or knocking down cattle while in pursuit by either rider or team riders.
    • Over-pursuit causing cattle to collide with holding pen panels, attempt to escape, or ‘dog pile’ in any opening.
    • Horses biting or kicking cattle.
  • Intentional contact with cattle by hands, feet, ropes, bats, poles, garrocha, or any other equipment.
  • Any signs of injury or traces of blood on cattle caused by the rider.
  • Endangering any other rider, horse, ground crew, or official.
  • Any attempt to work cattle on foot.
  • Outside assistance, L6 and L7.
  • Lameness or blood on the horse (If caused by the rider, blood on the horse will result in elimination from the competition).

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