Making "the" switch?

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Making "the" switch?

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    01-31-2012, 12:48 AM
Making "the" switch?

Back in November, I started working at a new barn; where a woman who owns, breeds, and trains her own horses was keeping her 8-9 year old mare -- who turned out to be 3rd-level Dressage. I would watch her between stalls, and found myself captivated.

For the past 2-3 years, I've ridden bareback or Western. But the trail riding, barrel racing, and pole bending just didn't provide enough mental stimulation for me, or my partners. I originally had a peak interest in Western Reining and Cutting, but couldn't find any instructors nearby.

So I began to slowly ask questions to this rider about Dressage.

She has me sold. As soon as it dries up (Spring time or so) and we can begin using her outdoor arena, I will begin taking Dressage lessons from the woman I met (I also eavesdropped and watched several of the lessons she had). I'll be taking lessons on her 17.2 Throughbred/Clydesdale mare (the aforementioned mare's dam), or on the mare I mentioned above.

Would anyone happen to have any suggestions for "the" switch? I've never been in an English saddle, so I'm also curious about how I'll feel with it... And truth be told, I have no idea what to expect.

Note: I will continue riding Western; Dressage is simply to work on my posture, balance, and discipline. I have no current plans of getting competitive.
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    01-31-2012, 12:57 AM
Yes, enjoy the ride! I didn't start riding English until 21 yrs ago, the first 30 was all western. I still show both, but English feels like home.
    01-31-2012, 01:21 AM
Originally Posted by waresbear    
Yes, enjoy the ride! I didn't start riding English until 21 yrs ago, the first 30 was all western. I still show both, but English feels like home.
Thanks. :)

I'll admit that I tried to ride English once, and wussed out. It was a combination of signals from my horse (that gut feeling) and irons that I felt were too narrow. Good thing I switched saddles before riding... The horse sported a few small rears and then a few bucks at the lope. Must love fresh horses. I feel like, without proper instruction plus my horse's behavior, it could have been a real disaster.
    01-31-2012, 09:21 PM
I would expect you will just feel much closer to the horse. Western saddles seem to have a lot more bulk to them. Position wise, it probably won't be very different since both western and dressage seats are upright and involve balance. You'll probably just feel a little more tucked in, but I'm sure you'll love dressage. It's very addictive.
    01-31-2012, 10:56 PM
Super Moderator
I think you will find adapting from a western saddle to a dressage easier than you think. In many ways, they are similar. YOu sit on your seatbones, with a moderately long leg and sit up straight. Sound familiar?

Bully for you. I ride both and love both ways of going . I have gotten a great deal of value out of riding Western for the last three years.
    01-31-2012, 11:14 PM
I guess we'll see... When I attempted the on-my-own ride in an English saddle, it was a Hunt seat (man the girth was an experience in itself!). If I do ride the daughter (the first horse I mentioned), you'll be hearing a hilarious story about me falling off [at last?]. The horse is known for being a bit energetic and giving a few high bucks (out of high spirits).
    01-31-2012, 11:23 PM
Super Moderator
Sorry, but falling off is hardly hilarious to me, but I'm like twice your age or more.
    02-04-2012, 11:48 PM
Just relax and enjoy it. Follow your experts instructions. Honestly, other than getting used to the contact, you're making the easier switch. You're already accustom to a longer leg and using a quiet, upright seat. Don't be afraid to ask tons of questions and if you're truly not comfortable with something, say so.

Your last experience in a hunt saddle was probably not fair... and they're totally different than a dressage saddle. The dressage saddle will hug you like a supportive pillow, where a hunt seat saddle is more like a board.
    02-11-2012, 05:08 PM
If you balance correctly and relax what needs to be relaxed so your weight flows to your seat bones and to your feet without tension, you will be fine regardless of the kind of saddle.

If you feel yourself needing to grab onto something, grab mane.

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