Choosing a Horseback Riding Style:
If you're just learning to ride you may be curious about the differences between English and western riding styles. Personally, I think there are more similarities than differences. And one is not more difficult to learn than the other, because becoming very proficient in either takes time, dedication and practice. But, here are the basic differences for you to compare.
The Western riding style developed according to the needs of 'cowboys'. The Western saddle
is made to distribute weight more evenly over the horse’s back so horse and rider can counterbalance the weight of a roped cow. The seat of a Western saddle
is comfortable for long hours over rough terrain. The horn anchors a lariat when roping cattle.
English riding takes many of its traditions and equipment from European mounted military styles.
Type of Horse:
Western horses tend to be compact and traditionally capable of steady travel all day with small bursts of speed to chase stray cattle.
English style horses tend to be taller.
But some individuals have surprising talents and a stocky Quarter Horse may surprise you in the dressage ring, while a Thoroughbred might have unexpected ‘cow sense’. Chances are your horse and you can find some success—and certainly fun, at any discipline or riding style no matter his type or breeding.
- Walk very similar for both English and Western.
- Trot/Jog: A jog is very smooth, relaxed, and slightly faster than a walk. The jog is useful for following herds of cattle. Riders sit a jog, and do not post. A trot is posted unless a sitting trot is required in the show ring.
- Canter/Lope: The Western lope is a slow relaxed canter. An canter can be very elevated, extended, or collected with many variations in speed depending on the specific discipline or style.
The most distinctive element of western riding is the western hat. Western style helmets
are available. A comfortable shirt, jeans and Western style boots complete the look. Many Western riders opt to wear sporty looking helmets, even when showing.
English riders wear a traditional style 'hunt cap' or helmet. A fitted jacket, shirt, jodhpurs or breeches and jodhpur boots or tall boots complete the English rider's habit.
The Basics of What You’ll Need to Know:
Western riders will learn how to hold the reins with one hand, called neck reining
, and sit the trot. English riders will learn to direct rein
and post the trot
. As you progress you will learn to cue and control your horse for different speeds within each gait, and other skills you’ll need to participate in various disciplines. If you plan to compete, you’ll need to learn to braid or band a mane, pull a tail, and other grooming details depending on what you are competing in.
English and Western Disciplines:
After learning the basics of either style there is a wide range of sports you can try. Here are just a few:
- Team penning
- Speed Games
- Trail Classes
- Pleasure and Equitation Classes
- Trail riding
- English or English Country Pleasure
- Mounted Games
- Hunter Pace
Sports That You Could Ride Either Or English or Western Style:
Some sports allow for either style of riding.