My brother-in-law once told a joke that goes something like this:
a politician was asked “why is the sky blue?” He answered, “Well, I see that as a two part question: first, ‘Why?’ is a question that poets and philosophers have debated for centuries, second, ‘Is the sky blue?’ — Yes!”
My answer to the question “What is working equitation?” may sound a bit similar. First, the word equitation, is the easy part. Equi – derived from the latin word for horse, and –tation, or doing something. Then ‘working,’ which sounds pretty straightforward (even though work is a four letter word). Working in this case, however, has a very specific reference to herd work or cow work. So what we are really talking about is stock horse training.
We, in the USA, often think we invented the cowboy, and hence the cow horse. However, nearly every country in the world has people who manage livestock horseback, from China, Mongolia, and the Eurasian Steppe, to Italy, Hungary, France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal.
What has happened over the past two decades is that a sport has grown out of the training of stock horse which bears a resemblance to ranch horses much in the same was as theoretical physics resembles engineering. Look it up on YouTube, it’s actually pretty exciting, and it’s catching like a virus!