Working Equitation in Maryland USA near Baltimore and DC – Clinic and Trainer


Clinician: Kimberly Gravis da Silva “L” Judge from Brazil

Location: Keep Stables in Woodbine MD

Address: 2610 Jennings Chapel Road, Woodbine MD 21797

(accessible to Northern VA, DC, Maryland, and Southern Pennsylvania)

Clinician Kimberly da Silva has served as Region 6 Director for WE United, bringing with her a wealth of experience drawing from years of immersion in the sport while she resided in Brazil, where she trained and competed with world class riders and trainers.

Kimberly has been a regular WE clinician for years, sharing information about the sport with others eager to learn. She also organizes WE-centered trips to Brazil, providing people with the opportunity to ride highly-trained horses under the tutelage of a champion in the sport.

Kimberly currently holds an “L” judge license for Working Equitation. Her main objective is to make sure that each attendee has a positive experience and finishes the day excited about continuing Working Equitation.

We are very excited that such a highly credentialed Working Equitation expert is helping us prepare for competition!

About the June 2019 Working Equitation Clinic

You can sign up for one or both days.

Your clinic spot will be reserved when we receive payment (instructions will be given on the sign-up form and emailed to you).

Day and overnight stalls available for out-of-towners. We will take orders for lunch from a nearby Grille


June 29 (First day): Small group sessions with Kimberly Garvis da Silva to work on specific Working Equitation skills based on your and your horse’s experience level.

  • Complete beginner – introduction to WE and first practice session with obstacles
  • Intro, Novice, and Intermediate groups for Ease of Handling practice and troubleshooting specific obstacles
  • Dressage focused groups to discuss and practice WE-specific dressage movements

June 30 (second day): Fix-a-Test format offers a low stress opportunity to perform any Working Equitation test or course of choice in front of the judge the same way you would for regular event, get feedback and then a short training session, and receive a score sheet with comments just like at a recognized event. This will be primarily Ease of Handling and/or Speed test. If you want to do a WE dressage test please indicate your interest.

Cost: $85 for both days. $50 for one day. Auditors are welcome (free, BYO chair)

Potential rain dates will be July 6 and 7.

For more information, please email Holly Linz at

General information about Working Equitation and Keep Stables

Holly Linz and the stallion Zamingo review the outdoors Ease of Handling course at Keep Stables MD
Holly Linz and the stallion Zamingo review the outdoors Ease of Handling course at Keep Stables MD.  In the middle is the “pitcher” obstacle, one of the easiest – simply stop alongside, hoist the jug overhead, and set it back down.  If you drop the jug, you are expected to dismount, replace it, and remount during the test.

Keep Stables is an official group member of the Confederation for Working Equitation in the United States!

We have a group of active Working Equitation riders who are schooling Intro and Novice level for Ease of Handling and Speed Tests, and a variety of levels for the Dressage phase.

National Championship Speed Trial Video   (MUST WATCH!!)

This video is just fun to watch, and shows what expert level Working Equitation looks like. It is the “speed trial” phase, which is scored by how long it takes to complete, so the rider is moving fast!

Never tried Working Equitation before? 

We are amateur friendly and have riders of all skill levels to practice with.

Do you have a Baroque or Spanish horse such as Andalusian or Lusitano? 

These breeds are naturals at Dressage and Working Equitation due to their beautiful movement, collection ability, and temperament.  Holly Linz has trained several Andalusian horses up the levels.  We are a sponsor of ERAHC (Eastern Region Andalusian Horse Club) and between our farm and First Choice Farm, we have a large group participate in the breed shows each year.  As of 2018, ERAHC is now offering recognized Working Equitation shows each year, either standalone or as part of their breed shows.

What does Dressage have to do with WE?

Being educated in English / Western Dressage gives a major advantage to riders who want to do Working Equitation.

  1. Dressage teaches you and your horse the balance, collection, and coordination necessary to perform well on an Ease of Handling or Speed course. For example, an upper level WE horse performing the figure-eight would be doing a collected and upright canter with flying changes for each change in direction around the obstacle. These are dressage skills.
  2. Dressage by itself is an entire 1/3 of the score for most Working Equitation shows! No obstacles – just precision figures and movements in a small dressage arena.

Because Keep Stables riders already specialize in dressage with Holly Linz as our trainer, we find that Working Equitation is a natural next step to progress in our skills and have fun with our horses!

working equitation maryland md DC stallion dressage
Holly Linz schooling dressage on the stallion Zamingo

Keep Stables is located in Woodbine, MD which is about 45 minutes north of DC, 30 minutes west of Baltimore MD, and 30 minutes east of Frederick Maryland.

Our farm has a full complement of Ease of Handling equipment such as:

  • “El Blanco Diablo”  the white bull figure for the precision lance obstacle
  • A full size gate with latch
  • Round pen
  • Garrocha poles
  • Bridge
  • Rein-back obstacles such as the cup, bell, and L-shape
  • Hay bale jump
  • Figure riding obstacles such as figure-8, barrel racing pattern, single and double slaloms.
  • Bank and water crossing
outdoor ring keep stables
Keep Stables outdoor arena

Working Equitation Clinics and Training

Please email us for the schedule of our clinics and small group practice sessions – we are accepting new students and horses for training, and offer regular clinic days for outside riders.

Our upcoming events calendar can be viewed at the bottom of this page (scroll all the way down).  This calendar generally has the big events for the farm.  Practices and schooling are scheduled less formally.

Our head trainer Holly Linz can assist you in learning the ease of handling obstacles and give dressage lessons to you and your horse.

We have access to a nearby farm with beef cattle and will have a few trips a year to practice cattle handling and get used to the ranch environment.

Keep Stables working equitation rider Audrey and her horse Apollo at a clinic in April 2019.
Keep Stables working equitation rider Audrey and her horse Apollo at a Virginia clinic in April 2019. Gate obstacles might be either fully built wooden gates or a simple rope between posts. Both types are challenging. Many horses are concerned about the ropes because they are similar to electric fencing. Wooden gates can snag riders and horses, and are less forgiving of sideways movement.

What is Working Equitation?

Working Equitation is a new, rapidly growing horse sport that is amateur friendly and lots of fun!   It has spread to several countries worldwide, and is strongly influenced by the Spaniard cattle handling traditions.

“El Blanco Diablo” at the Keep Stables outdoors Ease of Handling course.

Style is important in Working Equitation – riders are allowed to choose their own style of dress and tack, and are not required to wear helmets.  Examples include: Formal English, Portuguese, Western USA, and Spanish.  A wide variety of tack and bits are allowed such as hackamores, snaffles, curb bits, and bitless bridles, which makes the sport welcoming to a wider range of riders.  Riders are expected to stay consistent with their style by using the same dress and tack for all phases of the Working Equitation show.

A Working Equitation show has four phases:

Working Dressage

Keep Stables amateur rider Amira and horse Sonnet performing WE Novice A Dressage Test, which is similar in difficulty to a USEF Training Level test

Very similar to the USEF / USDF Dressage Tests, the Working Equitation Dressage tests are performed in a 20×40 meter dressage arena and follow the same basic movements as English and Western dressage tests.   For example, Intro dressage has walk-trot figures such as 20 meter circles.  Novice dressage includes a short rein-back and turn on the haunches.  Intermediate and higher tests include collection, flying changes, and other precision movements.

Holly Linz and Vadriero during an April 2019 dressage test
Holly Linz and Vadriero during an April 2019 dressage test

From the Confederation website:

What is the Working Dressage phase? It is a test to show the rhythm and regularity of the natural gaits and the precision of the horse to prepare for the other 3 phases. These are achieved through systematic gymnastic movements which are judged individually on a scale of 0 -10. Working Dressage does seek to demonstrate a horse’s natural athletic ability, willingness to work and lightness as does traditional Dressage and Western Dressage. It differs from Competitive Dressage as there is not an emphasis on extension work and the trot is only used as a training gait and appears in the tests less and less as the levels advance, focusing on the working gaits of the walk and canter. Working Dressage creates an opportunity to chain together the movements usually practiced in a work situation with cattle. Working Dressage requires that a horse show regularity and purity of gaits performed in horizontal balance who is then able to continue on to perform obstacles, work cattle and remain obedient at fast speeds.

Ease of Handling

lance obstacle with the bull dressage rider working equitation
Bull obstacle – use the lance to spear the ring while trotting or cantering past.  You only get one pass: if you miss, continue on and return your lance to the holder.  Bull silhouettes can be 3-dimensional, 2-dimensional (like the one above), or simply a ring holder that doesn’t look like a bull.

This phase is most similar to a Trail Competition, but is less about surviving and more about showing that you and your horse are working together as a team.   The test replicates the tasks a cattle working horse would be expected to perform during a day on the ranch.   During a test, you will be expected to move through about 10 obstacles such as a gate, an L-shape, a low bridge, and slalom poles.   You might stop by a barrel and hoist a jug of water overhead, then set it down.  In between obstacles, you would trot or canter.  Sometimes there are live animals in the round pen obstacle (such as chickens), which tests your horse’s experience and temperament.

You are judged by how efficiently you and your horse progress through the obstacles.  Does your horse wait calmly while you manipulate the gate?  Is your figure-8 around the barrels round and symmetrical?   Does your horse willingly walk over the bridge or do they try to race across?

Round pen working equitation
Round pen obstacle (trot between the inner and outer pen).  In shows, there are often small animals (goats, chickens) or other decorations inside the inner pen, which test the temperament of your horse.

From the Confederation website:

What is the Ease of Handling phase? This phase which in other countries is also called ‘Manability’, ‘EOH’ ‘Style phase’ ‘Obstacle test’ or ‘Handiness test’ is an obstacle type event in which horse and rider must overcome elements which symbolize the difficulties natural and not, relative to those likely to be encountered in the field (i.e. crossing bridges, passing through gateways, side passing, etc). The manner in which the obstacle is executed – focusing on agility, submission, working attitude, as well as ease of movement and of handling – is scored by a judge the same way as the Working Dressage test on a scale of 0-10 for each element.

The Keep Stables working equitation group visited a clinic in Virginia to school ease of handling
The Keep Stables working equitation group visited a clinic in Virginia to school ease of handling in a new place!  In the foreground, the task is to stop between the yellow posts and move the cup from one side to the other without changing hands.  In the background, you see Holly Linz and Vadriero schooling the round pen obstacle, and to the right, there are three barrels which are trotted or cantered in a barrel racing pattern.

Speed Trial

The speed phase goes through the same set of obstacles as the Ease of Handling test, but the score is based on completing the obstacles at speed.   For example, the rider who completes all obstacles in 2 minutes will beat the rider who completes the obstacles in 3 minutes.  If you cannot perform an obstacle, there is a set penalty assigned such as 10 or 30 seconds added to your time.   This is an exciting competition to perform and observe!   Remember though – none of these phases are required; some riders will only perform the dressage phase and ease of handling while others will sign up for all four during a competition.

lance obstacle 2 speed trial working equitation cantering
Ease of handling and speed trial both feature the lance obstacle – picking up the lance while trotting or cantering, carrying the lance through obstacles such as the round pen, spearing a 6″ ring (usually mounted on a bull silhouette target), and returning the ring and lance to their holder.

From the Confederation website:

What is the Speed phase? This is the second test of handiness, the first “EOH’ (listed above) is a test of technical handiness; this is a test of time handiness. It is a timed obstacle race, using the ‘Ease of Handling’ Obstacles. This is the same event as ‘EOH’ but measured in an objective way by the use of a stop watch -timer. The goal is to promote the horses which are most manageable. The individual scores are based on elapsed time through the obstacles and time penalties for course errors. The routes and the penalties applied for the mistakes must be such as to prevent any attempt to promote just the top speed, and not the handiness which would be contrary to the spirit of the discipline. It is the most exciting element  in the Working Equitation competition series.

Cattle Handling

cattle handling phase of working equitation
A team of riders separates one calf from the herd and pens it.

This phase is only included in some shows since it can be difficult to find appropriate livestock.   Riders are judged in their ability to separate a specific cow from a group and herd it into a holding pen.  This takes equitation skills similar to a Western Cutting Horse.

From the Confederation website:

What is the Cattle Handling phase? The Cattle handling phase is the essence of the sport of Working Equitation. It is performed by a ‘Team’ of three or four riders. This is a timed test which is to prove the skills of the competitors with cattle. The constraints of the test are to show: 1.) A calm approach to the cattle. 2.) The isolation and the sorting of the cattle in respect of the integrity of the herd. 3.) The conduct of the cattle sorted efficiently and accurately. 4.) Teamwork. The event consists of team members individually separating a particular animal from the herd, and then as a team herding it into a separate pen. It is similar to the American sports of Team Penning or Ranch Sorting.

WE United or Confederation for Working Equitation???

In the United States, two major groups have formed to organize Working Equitation events and shows. These groups are the Confederation for Working Equitation and WE United.

The Confederation is active with ERACH (Eastern Region Andalusian Horse Club) which puts on multiple Working Equitation shows each year on the east coast.

Link to Confederation event calendar

Link to ERACH show calendar

WE United seems to have mostly west coast events. Link to WE United calendar

For most riders interested in WE, you don’t need to pick between the two. Just go to whichever events you are interested in.

Helpful links about Working Equitation

working equitation training on the bridge
Calmly walking over a bridge (variable terrain) is an important skill for working horses.  WE shows often add decorations to the obstacles which test the temperament of your horse.

Contact Keep Stables (email) for information about Working Equitation Training, small group practice sessions, and clinic schedule.

About Page for Keep Stables and head trainer Holly Linz.

Confederation for Working Equitation USA Links

Official 2019 Rules Page

PDF:  Summary of time penalties, time bonuses, and disqualifications.  Obstacle requirements summary (gaits, appropriate levels).

Confederation Events Calendar  (Region 6 includes Maryland, DC, Virginia and most of New England.

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