Confused about english and western riding, mainly the reins?
 
 

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Confused about english and western riding, mainly the reins?

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  • Western reins vs english reins

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    10-29-2011, 05:55 PM
  #1
Foal
Confused about english and western riding, mainly the reins?

So I've been taking weekly, private riding lessons for about half a year. I ride Western and barely ever use my reins. I may be wrong, but it seems like English riders use them a lot more than Western riders. When turning I use my focus, seat, legs and then resort to reins if need be. The horse is also in a curb bit, and I understand that most people who ride English use snaffles. But what is the point of using the reins so much? I guess I'm kind of confused. I ride with loose reins and will tighten them if need be. English riders seem to always ride with contact on the mouth. Can anyone explain? Thank you. And also note that I'm not trying to insult anyone or anything, I'm just a clueless beginner that wants to learn.
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    10-29-2011, 06:32 PM
  #2
Foal
Western bits are normally harsher than English. Imagine a cowboy having to work with both hands and he only has a split second to stop his horse. That's what I've come to understand.
     
    10-29-2011, 06:59 PM
  #3
Trained
Western bits are not necessarily 'harsher' than english bits. Broke western horses neck rein and ride in curb bit. A curb bit works off of leverage so for every pound of pressure you put on the reins, three (generally) is applied to the horses mouth. The clues are more subtle and the reins are generally kept loose.

Snaffles and english riders ride off of direct contact. So there is a 1:1 pressure ratio. An english rider should still rely on their seat, balance, and legs however they will have a shorter reign with a soft 'contact' on the mouth.

No rider should be balancing on or relying on the rein.
     
    10-29-2011, 07:12 PM
  #4
Cat
Green Broke
As already touched upon - there are two different goals behind English versus Western. Yes - the goal in both is to communicate with the horse, but for different reasons.

In western riding the goal originally was to ride one handed on a horse that responded softly to the slightest shift of the reins and seat aids so that the rider could use the other to do things like rope a cow if needed and not have to worry about their horse.

In the world of english riding - especially in higher level of dressage - the rider is asking for more intricate moves that require more finesse. The reins are supporting cues to what the seat asks and there is constant communication going from rider to horse through the reins - but its always a refinement of the what the seat is asking.

Another way to look at it is Western riding is like using a walkie talkie - you can communicate and make your directions clear but the connection isn't always on, while English is more like the telephone - you have a constant connection until you hang up. Both work well for their means but wouldn't necessarily work well in all situations.
     
    10-29-2011, 07:19 PM
  #5
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spastic_Dove    
Western bits are not necessarily 'harsher' than english bits. Broke western horses neck rein and ride in curb bit. A curb bit works off of leverage so for every pound of pressure you put on the reins, three (generally) is applied to the horses mouth. The clues are more subtle and the reins are generally kept loose.

Snaffles and english riders ride off of direct contact. So there is a 1:1 pressure ratio. An english rider should still rely on their seat, balance, and legs however they will have a shorter reign with a soft 'contact' on the mouth.

No rider should be balancing on or relying on the rein.
Spastic Dove I use a Myler combination bit with the reins attached to the main large ring which offers almost no extra leaverage. I to am one of the riders that have some issues when riding, for instance I am 5'11" in socks, and can not use my legs to que the horse as my foot does not touch the horse forward of the girth strap hense I rely on the reins a lot. The horse is round in the barrel, and I can not grow longer legs or feet (I jest) any others having or a simmilar problem any insight of what to try always welcome
     
    10-29-2011, 07:47 PM
  #6
Trained
How does a combo bit help replace your leg for cues?
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    10-29-2011, 07:59 PM
  #7
Showing
Us western riders like our horses long and low, content to travel on a loose rein because that is what is most comfortable (for both horse and rider) when you are riding sometimes 20-30 miles a day and covering a lot of country while working cattle, opening gates, and roping. That simply cannot be accomplished with both hands on the reins at all times.

The way I see english horses is that they are supposed to be similar to a coiled spring, all circular energy from the legs to the bit and down through the back to the legs again...or something LOL.

It's really just a matter of different needs and different cultures.
     
    10-29-2011, 08:25 PM
  #8
Foal
*ahemm*
I ride Western in an O-ring snaffle. I also ride English in an O-ring snaffle.
Yes, it does seem that way, but it isn't.
Neckreining is a lot more subtle than plow reining - you may just be not looking hard enough. Plowreining is very obvious, even when you're being extremely light with it - and a sensitive horse reacts to the slightest touch; whether you're neck or plow reining. So it may look like englishers depend on the bit more, but it really just depends on the horse and rider.
     
    10-29-2011, 11:04 PM
  #9
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spastic_Dove    
How does a combo bit help replace your leg for cues?
It dosn't replace my leg for cues but the bit in the set up I use is soft. So I really rely on the good will of my horse.

My question was as I am not using leg or foot cues because of the issue described I am forced to rely on reins. I was looking for sugestions that could help me and any others like me who use reins as the main form of communication. I did not mention I do also use voice comands but not the amount of control I would like. On reflection I need to teach the horse leg cues that I can manage.
There is another solution I could tie my legs around the horse and over time I may develop bowed legs to the extent I could then reach the areas of the horse I need to enable clear leg cues. (jest)

I would love to spend some time in a cattle ranch in the USA It's on my bucket list.
     
    10-30-2011, 06:10 AM
  #10
Trained
I'm at a bit of a loss to understand why someone's legs cannot give leg cues.

Are you trying to give them with your feet or heel? I've been taught to use my calf.

Also, I need my toes to point out about 45-60 deg to get my leg around the horse. If I try for toes front, it twists my leg around and pushed my knee into the horse, doing all sorts of bad things to my riding. Or I can move my feet forward some, like in the old west, and then my legs will fit while allowing my feet to point forward some and heels to go low.

Riding my gelding:



As for the difference between western and English, modern English seems heavily influenced by jumping. Up till the late 1800s, jumping was done deep in the saddle. The Italians figured out then that getting out of the saddle made it possible to jump much higher, and it seems that English saddle design and style of riding has been adjusted to meet that goal.

Jumping and dressage (from an outsider perspective) seems to need constant communication between the rider and horse, so the horse is 'on the bit' to allow a constant feel. The English rider wants to direct the horse's movement.

Western riders rely more on the horse's initiative. The rider sets the goal, and the horse figures out how to achieve it. This frees the rider up to rope, or watch the cattle, or to just think about something else while the horse feels his way across rough country. Real western riding cannot assume smooth ground.



Two LS cowpunchers feeling their way over a bad trail. LS Ranch, Texas, 1907



Cowboy [possibly Elmer Sager] working the herd and cutting out a steer. Shoe Bar Ranch, Texas, 1912

BTW - notice his toes pointing out!

From an excellent collection of western riding pictures taken in the early 1900s:

Erwin E. Smith Collection Guide | Collection Guide
     

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