The saddle is called a cutback saddle because the front is cutback to accommodate the typically high-withered horses that use the saddle. It's also measured much larger because the rider sits farther back on the saddle.
There are more than 2 classes of ss riding - in the arab circuit anyway. Country pleasure is the lowest with knee action slightly below parallel. English pleasure is in the middle with at or slightly above parallel knee action. Park is the third with consistently above parallel knee action. By parallel, I mean action of the knee so that the forearm is parallel to the ground. The most noticeable difference in the class pattern is that the horses are never asked to canter from a trot or to trot from a canter. There is a strong trot which is the biggest trot and the one most associated with this style of riding. When turning around, they always turn to the outside, not the inside. All of this is from the class a arab circuit. Other breeds may be different.
The long tails are desired because, with the speed these horses are moving, the tails flow behind them and shorter tails look even shorter.
The riding style has 2 origins. The first the plantation owners in the south. This way they had a horse comfortable to ride around the fields all day, but showy enough to ride into town. The second was for the elite in england to show off their flashy horses on their rides through the park. Hence, park classes.
The rider sits very differently compared to almost all other disciples. There is a slight chair seat because the rider sits back in the saddle and the stirrup bars are set farther forward in the saddle. Notice I said a slight chair seat. Many people just assume this means to throw their legs forward. That's not the case. The hands are held high with the elbow making a 90 degree angle. The whole look is about being as flashy, showy, and - for lack of a better word - pompous/arrogant as possible.
They're all very high energy classes with loud music, and lots of audience yelling, whistling, cheering, and general noise making.
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