Why You Need To Know the Difference Between English and Western Riding
When You first become interested in horse riding, you will need to make a choice of which horse riding style you wish to pursue.
There is a difference between English riding and Western Riding. You will need to know how English riding vs Western Riding is. Then you will be able to make a much better, informed decision.
Learning to ride a horse means learning the different riding styles that are available. When people are new to riding horses, they often wonder about the difference between English and western riding.
These riding styles have their differences and similarities and one is really no more difficult than the other to learn. With this information, new riders can better understand the similarities and what makes each of these riding styles unique.
Riding Style History: English Riding & Western Style Riding
I am of the strong belief that if you are trying to understand anything or anyone, you get history on it or them. Until then it’s a crapshoot. Your information could be slanted as sub-standard or lacking.
It could be looked at as bigoted, or small-minded as well if it’s your view of a person.
So since we are talking about a riding style for the horse the first description might fit better. I believe you will be much better informed to make a proper riding style decision if you have a clear picture of what the history looks like for both styles.
The English style of riding started in England and the European area of the world. This style is much more a horse, man type of communication type of riding. This style is used more for fox runs, dressage, and horse event jumping and riding competitions.
It uses a small saddle. With this in mind, the horse can feel much more of how the person riding it. The rider is trying to control or ride it with directives.
If you are of undisciplined riding control patterns then you will have a mixed-up horse and I am, sure your ride may be unsafe as well as not enjoyable.
Horse and man, or woman and horse, it is the relationship that makes a tremendous difference in the English style of riding.
Western-style horse riding was developed in the western plains of the United States and the pampas(the large flat surface) grasslands of Argentina, in South America.
The intention here was that the horses were being used for long periods of time by cowboys here in the United States and gauchos in Argentina. Also, it is used by ranchers in Southern Canada and in Australia as well.
They were using the horses for ranching duties and a long day in the saddle leads to the development of a larger, more comfortable saddle.
Thus western style riding does not require as much body control from the rider. This makes the western style very popular and easier to achieve great results with than the English style of riding.
The Main Difference Lies in the Tack
When attempting to gain an understanding of English vs western riding, one of the first considerations is the type of tack that is used.
The type of tack presents the main difference between the two styles and sets them apart from one another.
The western saddle is larger and
it covers more area of the horse’s back. It is also much heavier than an English saddle.
The western saddle was designed to evenly distribute the weight of the rider across the expanse of the horse’s back for a greater level of comfort for the horse.
The western saddle was meant to provide a more comfortable ride for horses spending long days on the ranch.
In direct contrast with the western saddle, the English saddle is much lighter in weight and smaller. A smaller saddle allows the rider to have a greater level of contact with the horse’s back.
This type of saddle is meant to provide comfort for both the horse and rider, ensuring the horse’s movements are not impeded by the saddle.
Some riders believe English saddles allow for more intuitive interaction with the horse.
The style of saddle is a primary difference between English and western riding, but there are also other differences, such as riding style, that set these two types of styles apart.
Understanding these differences will help new riders to be able to decide which one will be preferable for them.
The Differences in Riding Styles
For new riders, it can be a bit confusing to understand western riding vs English riding. There are some slight differences in riding styles, but there are also some similarities.
In both riding styles, the rider should always sit up tall and straight.
Slumping or leaning places undue pressure on the horse’s back and can lead to pain and problems with the horse’s natural gait.
Aside from the posture being the same, there are some aspects that create a difference between English and western riding.
The English style of riding has the rider taking the reins in both hands. The rider has contact with the horse’s mouth via the reins and directs them accordingly.
An English-style rider also uses the saddle and their legs to direct the horse. These are used to control the speed and direction of the horse so the rider remains in control at all times.
Western styles of riding involve the rider placing both reins in one hand. This leaves the other hand available for roping cattle. In western riding, the rider uses the saddle, their weight, and the reins on the neck to control the horse’s speed and direction.
With English or western riding, the horse and rider work as a team, complimenting one another’s moves and intuitively responding to the cues given by both.
If you are new to horse riding, the above information should help you understand what is the difference between western and English riding.
Many new riders try both before deciding which riding style feels most natural to them. Mastering either riding style is not difficult as long as the rider is in tune with their horse and develops a relationship of trust and respect.
In fact, many top trainers of horseback riding will start their students on the English type of riding.
This is done because they figure the lack of saddle and needing to use more of the rider’s body to control the horse will make it just that much easier to switch to western style riding.
Basically, master the more difficult of the two and the lesser will be much easier to accomplish when you are wanting to switch.
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