Cattle Trial

Working Equitation originated in Italy, Portugal, Spain, and France as a way to showcase horses used in the field and for ranchwork. The fourth and final test of Working Equitation team 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 takes place in an enclosed arena with cattle-appropriate fencing (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 three 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) is placed highest in the Cattle Trial.

At this time, most Working Equitation competitions in the United States do not offer the Cattle Trial; however, several regions are starting to include the trial in some of their competitions.

Cutting the designated cow from the herd.

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.

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.

USAWE Logo design by Alexandra Crippen of Crippen Designs.

The logo represents the four trials of Working Equitation and highlights the diversity for which the sport is known in the United States. 

  • The first image depicts a mule, being ridden in Western tack and attire in the Dressage trial.
  • The second image showcases an Iberian horse in traditional Iberian tack and attire performing in the EOH trial.
  • The third image shows a horse of indeterminate breeding and a rider in English tack and attire, competing in the Speed trial.
  • Together, all three riders represent a team competing together in the Cattle trial. Although the cow is not shown directly, the three teammates are working in concert. The image is intended to elicit the feeling of excitement and movement as the team moves their designated cow toward the holding pen to the far right, off the page. (Think of it as a "silent cow", much as the letter "e" at the end of a word is often referred to as "the silent 'e'" in recognition of its existence without being read aloud).

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