Interested in the English style of riding, how to begin? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 05-10-2012, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Question Interested in the English style of riding, how to begin?

Hi! Well, a little background information. I have always ridden western (mainly just trails. No WP or anything like that.) I found my first horse about two years ago, I love him to death. I couldn't ask for a better first horse! He is about 14 hands and one hunk of a hansome Morgan. I've had several lessons here and there, but I've done a lot of learning by myself through books and the internet. Anyway, lately I've really become interested in a lot of the English type stuff. I really enjoy jumping, so I was thinking some low level eventing. (I know that I would not be able to just start jumping my horse because I feel like it. Eventing takes alot of work.) I also really enjoy the concepts of dressage. My only problem.. well one of several, is I'm in rural kansas. Everything is either a QH or a Paint and its really hard to find a really good dependable english trainer. Infact, I'm pretty sure there isn't even one around here. My other issue is the english saddles are quite foreign to me. My horse is very wide and goes in a wide treed western saddle. So what type, brand of english saddle to I look for? I'm really curious, and I really am interested in learning, I just don't know where to start.

Any advice would be appricieated! Thanks! I apologize for spelling mistakes. Really not my strongest asset.
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-10-2012, 10:46 PM
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First and foremost, get your horse's back measured and fitted for an english saddle and ask them to help you tack up. Next, spend some time just cruising in the saddle (make sure the girth is snug) and get used to it.

The basics of both are the same. Only in English we focus more on shoulder, hip, heel line and generally have shorter stirrups (unless you're doing Dressage.) We take up more contact and ride with direct reining, instead of neck reining.

If you take videos of your riding and post it here, we can help you until you find a trainer (which really is the best option.)

Maybe ask around on the forums to see if someone on here can point you in the right direction.

Have fun and be safe!

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #3 of 11 Old 05-11-2012, 05:05 AM
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How about......books?!

Order these:

40 Fundamentals of English Riding Book and DVD at Bit of Britain

Principles of Riding

The very first one is a really wide overview of english riding starting from the assumption the rider knows little to nothing about horses and quickly and progressively builds on basic tack, basic riding, and then moves on to all the major disciplines. It doesn't cover anything in great depth.

The other two I haven't read but they are always highly recommended to lay a good foundation.
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Last edited by mildot; 05-11-2012 at 05:12 AM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-11-2012, 05:19 AM
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New Legacy Farm

Probably no more than 45 minutes from you. Call and ask but I am sure the owner would not mind you trailering in for lessons.

Anyone who lives (or has lived, like me) in Kansas understands the distances and lack of choices in the rural parts of the state.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-11-2012, 07:46 AM
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-11-2012, 03:25 PM
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How far away from Manhattan are you? I take lessons at an amazing english barn close to Manhattan that specializes in hunter/jumpers, and I know it's not the only English style riding center in the area. But I used to live in Wichita and there was nothing english related there, so I know it can be pretty hit and miss finding an english barn. It all depends on the area. If there's nothing close to you, maybe travel to the closest one once or twice in the beginning just to at least help give you a good foundation, it can be really helpful in the long run and it's much easier to learn with someone who knows what they are doing teaching you. But lessons or not, books, youtube, and this forum are definitely helpful! Good luck!
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-11-2012, 08:03 PM
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I ride, preferably in a dressage saddle, but always with a classical seat, which immensely lengthens the leg. In a dressage saddle, I sit with a longer leg and stirrup than I would a western saddle. I 'might' shorten my stirrup when jumping, depends how good my balance is on a given day.

Proper riding is proper riding, no matter the discipline. My instructor taught me to keep the same seat no matter what saddle I ride in, and my butt has touched Aussie, Western(s), Saddleseat, Dressage, Jumping, and All Around saddles. Watch some of those jumping saddles though, they push you forward into a jumping two point.

And I would ask around some of the western barns. You might find an English rider among them. My instructor teaches mainly hunter jumper because that is what is popular in my area, but she can school people in any of the western disciplines.

Think of it not as a failure but as a success in how not to do it.

Don't look in a horses mouth for a gift.
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-12-2012, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome! Thanks for all the advice, I am really looking forward to this!
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-12-2012, 05:15 PM
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Having a saddle-fitter is best. If that's not an option:
For the saddle, take a wither-tracing. Get a flexi-curve or a straightened-out coat-hanger (flexi-curve is most accurate and easiest). Lay it over your horse's back about 2" behind the rear edge of his scapula and press down to get a "casting" of his back. This is the place the tree-points on an English saddle should sit (approximately.). Now trace this onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out. Now you can take your "horse" saddle-shopping with you. When you look at an English saddle from the front, lift the flaps, and you'll see the tree points there, right in front of the billets, tucked into leather pockets. If the angle of the tree points matches the angle of your "horse", you have a good start. If you're buying online, look for a seller who will let you return the saddle if it doesn't fit. Look at your wither-tracing. Around 90 is about a medium. Wider is a wider tree, narrower is a narrower tree. All manufacturers have a completely different idea of what the various tree widths actually are, so you really need to try the saddle on your horse.
Make sure that the saddle you get has good panels on the underside. They need to be soft enough to conform to the horse's back and provide cushioning, yet firm enough to provide support. No lumps are allowed.

For riding:
Start with your seat and balance. When you get your saddle, have someone lunge you, and ride all the gaits without stirrups until you're glued into the saddle. My mom used to have me put my arms out to the sides like an airplane while doing this. Ride with light contact with the mouth at all times, without pulling unless needed.
Keep in mind that in an English saddle, your horse will feel your cues, movements and weight sifts much more than in a Western saddle. Don't be surprised if he suddenly seems very responsive or sensitive.
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-12-2012, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Freia, bareback is one of my favorite ways to ride. I've always felt the most connected with my horse when riding that way. I'm looking forward to having less saddle between my horse and I!

What do you all think about the Wintec 500 All Purpose? Also, where do I find a "Flexi-curve"?? And I'm assuming you can not use a western cinch with an English saddle?
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