July 17, 2015
English or Western?
It’s just one of those known horse facts that I suppose many equestrians ride their horses in the way, or style, they’ve been taught. By style, I mean either English or Western, two distinctly different techniques to ride a mount. By the way, the horse must be trained in either English, Western, or both because the techniques are so different.
Let’s briefly look at these two riding styles so you understand the major differences between them:
English vs. Western
1. English is known as the formal riding style while Western is considered more laid-back. The major difference between English and Western, besides the saddles and riders’ attire, is that with English riding, the rider holds each of two reins with his hands separated, a rein in each hand. In Western, the rider holds both reins in one hand and “neck reins” the horse to turn him left or right.
2. The English saddle is usually lighter and is the “bare necessity” with a thick pad underneath to support the rider. It has no horn (protruding stem) on the front of the saddle to help the rider hang on, and the stirrups hang freely. The Western saddle is much heavier, usually has fancy cut leather, has the horn, and fancy fenders with stirrups on the end.
3. Although the walk and canter are similar, riding the horse’s trot is quite different in both styles. In English, the rider must learn to “post” or raise himself forward out of the saddle with every other beat of the horse’s trot. In Western, the rider “sits” the entire time during a trot.
4. Although Western riding is the most popular for trail riding, both English and Western riding styles are used in show-ring competition. It’s quite easy to spot the difference in dress, though. In Western competition, the riders look like they’re riding the range out West. In English showing, the riders look like they’re on their way to a tea with Queen Elizabeth. However, in both competitions, even in rodeos, contestants are seen wearing helmets, or “hard hats,” to protect themselves from serious injury.
We could go on with other differences in the riding styles, but for a start, let’s say you’ve just gotten “the scoop” on riding English or Western.