Equitation is the art or practice of horse riding or horsemanship. It is a discipline that is committed to correct and effective riding ability. Equitation is for ALL riders regardless of age or ability. The competitions are structured in such a way that each competitor receives valuable critique from knowledgeable, suitably qualified judges.
More specifically, equitation refer to a rider’s position while mounted, and encompasses a rider’s ability to ride correctly and with effective aids. In a horse show or competition, the rider, rather than the horse is evaluated. Judging criteria covers the rider’s performance and control of the horse, use of riding in proper attire, correct form, and usually factor in rider poise and the cleanliness and polish of horse, rider and equipment. The performance of the horse is not judged per se, but a poorly performing horse is considered to reflect the ability of the rider. A good equitation rider is always in balance with the horse, maintains a correct position in every gait, movement, or over a fence, and possesses a commanding, but relaxed, presence, able to direct the horse with nearly invisible aids.
Equitation was originally introduced into South Africa in the 1970s by Mrs Charlotte Stubbs with the intention of improving rider’s skills and particularly to provide those without access to regular or correct instruction with some constructive feedback enabling them to progress along internationally recognised lines.