Confused about english and western riding, mainly the reins? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 07:39 AM
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I used thigh pressure a lot more when I rode English than when riding Western. The English riding position lends itself to that. I used my feet with Western more than my legs. Never felt I could apply thigh pressure as well in a Western saddle (and always hated the horn....even when it was usefull). But for comfort the Western style seat is hard to beat.
As for the reins. As RunJumpRide already pointed out, neck reining is much more subtle. With a well trained horse it can almost go unnoticed. Holding the reins in you left hand, mid pommel, if you move your hand from the wrist just an inch to the right you end up with a rein laying completely on the left side of the neck and lose contact on the right. That's barely discernible, but the horse's sensitive skin notice the difference in contact location and responds.
As smrobs pointed out. If you're working from horseback or spending all day in the saddle reining is certainly the best option and if you do it long enough you'll soon enough feel it 's the only option :))
Many years ago I stopped using bridles for long distance rides and just rode with a halter. It was a pain having to take off the bridle so the horses could comfortable graze when we took a break. Neck reining my horses didn't require me to use a bit and bitless bridles were unknown to me (if they were even available) back then. Neck reining was so convenient that I could be walking back from from the river, catch a horse in the pasture, loop an empty stringer or some bailing twin (if I had some) under the neck and ride the 1/2 mile home bareback with no halter, no leg pressue except what's needed to stay on :)), just the neck reining pressure.
I never regretting starting out English. I learned alot about sitting, balance, leg control and resisted going to Western after moving to the US. However, when you work cattle or spend all day riding for any purpose (except perhaps fox hunting :)) ) you're hard pressed to beat the comfort of a Western style seat or the control ease of reining (and my thighs were never tired after riding 30+ miles a day :)), whereas I wouldn't have been able to walk if I'd stayed with English for working cattle and riding long distances)
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post #12 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 08:06 AM
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BSMS
Thanks for the info and the great photos
And yes taught to use heals and toes but not very sucesfull as explained earlier.
I have tried using my calf but don't get the response I want. I think that though is just retraining myself, and then the horse to new cues. I have wondered if the saddle skirt is deadening the feel for the horse. Just a thought. I am trail riding for around 6 hours tomorrow so will make a concentrated effort to adjust my style and use my calf to cue.

My blog foremyhorse.org you may enjoy the read. Its different.
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post #13 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 08:48 AM
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The old saying "different strokes for different folks" is very true here. It's all about purpose in riding. It would be rather tough to rope a steer or open gates riding 2 handed with contact as it would also be tough to ride a dressage mount on a loose western style neck rein.

Stan, when you are neck reining focus on using the outside leg in conjunction asking your horse to move away from your leg. Left turn - right leg and vice versa. She will eventually connect the two cues. Asking (rein) & reminding (leg).
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post #14 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 09:07 AM
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Communication between horse and rider requires contact, no matter what the tack looks like. Sometimes contact is obvious to the observing eye, as in English umbrella disciplines, and sometimes it doesn't look like it is there at all, as in Western. Sometimes it's something in between, in which case either horse or rider needs some tweaking. Contact is required for clear communication, and is NOT about the reins. Dressage folk talk about this facet of things much more explicitly, but it is every bit as applicable to western. Contact is about the acceptance of and response to all the aids - weight, balance, seat, legs, and hands.

In terms of the reins, English riders/horses on true correct contact do not rely on the reins, or use the reins any more than any of the other aids for control. The contact that the observer (especially a seasoned western rider) might see as a very short rein, something that on the face is restricting, is in fact simply a removal of slack from the reins. It's a relaxed handshake, not a constant pulling. Like the western horse on a drape, the English horse ideally feels the same thing unless the rider's hands actively change to ask for a change. The western horse is taught to respond to a different kind of rein contact, but the contact is still there, there's still a connection between the rider's hands and the horse's mouth. I like the analogy someone made earlier, about it being like a walkie-talkie versus a telephone. The western-terminology equivalent of contact regarding the mouth in the dressage sense would probably be "packing the bit."

Any kind of rider can rely on the reins too much, be too busy in the horse's mouth, or use the bit as a crutch. Whether that contact is always held and restricting the horse, or the rider is constantly grabbing and snatching at the bit rather than following the motion or staying out of the horse's mouth consistently, communication is being ineffective. Excellent, subtle hands and rein usage is extremely difficult to do right, no matter what the discipline.

Regarding saddles and feel, people who switch to English saddles often comment that their seat aids feel "magnified," or that they can feel the horse much better. There's just less leather between horse and rider. I have seen Western "close contact" saddles, with cutaways in the skirts under the fenders and that sort of thing.
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A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #15 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 09:52 AM
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Western like a man, direct too the point, clear simple instructions without worrying about the details,,, "GROG WANT TURN"
English like a woman, thousands of itty bitty hints and clues and nagging,
Even though I didnt say anything you shoulda known I wanted to turn, It would kinda be ok if we turned, do you think it will make by butt look fatter going to the left than right and did you see what marsha was wearing, I kinda think a 20 degree turn, but iff you loved me how come you only turned 19 and my other horse warned me about you and she said that.............................................. .
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post #16 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Joe4d View Post
Western like a man, direct too the point, clear simple instructions without worrying about the details,,, "GROG WANT TURN"
English like a woman, thousands of itty bitty hints and clues and nagging,
Even though I didnt say anything you shoulda known I wanted to turn, It would kinda be ok if we turned, do you think it will make by butt look fatter going to the left than right and did you see what marsha was wearing, I kinda think a 20 degree turn, but iff you loved me how come you only turned 19 and my other horse warned me about you and she said that.............................................. .

I won't say that English had quite that much detail, but that was 40+ years ago, so they may have added more since then.

Western is more direct and much easier to me. With my reins, feet and verbal everything was covered. Not sure how I would have done without a bit when riding English, but certainly gave up bits with Western reining.
Although turning was a lot less primative than "GROG WANT TURN" . Never had to move an arm or take the hand off the pommel, just a slight turn of the wrist .
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post #17 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Wow thanks everyone for the explanations! I appreciate it a lot.

BSMS- Those pictures are awesome and thanks for the info.
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post #18 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Stan View Post
...I have tried using my calf but don't get the response I want. I think that though is just retraining myself, and then the horse to new cues. I have wondered if the saddle skirt is deadening the feel for the horse. Just a thought...
The lady I took lessons from this summer has lessons horses who know a lot, but who are also ridden regularly by, shall we say, insensitive riders.

The point she always made, and many of the students in the group lesson seemed to ignore, is that you ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS start with a squeeze. If the horse doesn't respond, bump lightly with the calf. Then a firmer bump. Then a kick. If a couple of kicks don't do the job, then a crop, with whatever force it takes to get the point across.

But you do that sequence EVERY time. She said it might take a horse 300 times if he is slow, but on sequence 301 he might figure out to respond at a firm bump instead of a kick. And that is progress. And if you keep at it, eventually he'll respond to a squeeze.

Of course, if the horse is ridden by 20 different riders, then it is tough. But with her lesson horses, even the stubborn ones usually caught on after a half hour or so, and by the end of a 60-90 minutes lesson would be responding to a nudge instead of a crop or kick.

If the horse is ridden by just a few riders, he'll pick up on the rider. My daughter, I'm sad to say, usually starts with a kick and doesn't listen well to stupid Dad. That is why she is now taking lessons from the place where I took lessons over the summer. But when she rides Trooper, she has to kick because he expects it from her. When I ride Trooper, the biggest problem I have is that an accidental squeeze from my poor ability will be interpreted as "Go faster" or "Turn". I sometimes find myself making a conscious effort to spread my knees to avoid giving unintentional cues.

Still, it is nice to have a horse who will go from a walk to a canter with a squeeze of the legs accompanied with a kissing sound.

FWIW, the western saddle I use probably has more leg contact than my Australian-style saddle. Past about mid-thigh, the only thing between me and the horse is my Levis and one thin layer of soft leather. The cinch is a bit in front of my leg. With either the Aussie-style or an AP English saddle, the double flap construction and location of the girth puts more stuff between my leg and the horse than the western saddle.

(My favorite is a jump saddle, ridden western style. Lots of feel thru the seat, and nothing between my leg and my horse but my jeans. Unfortunately, my marginal skill leaves me nervous riding like that, and nervous means tension and tension means bad riding...but I'm slowly making progress. Someday...)

English saddles transmit more feel of the horse thru the butt, and vice-versa, but I wonder if that isn't because they have less load bearing area, so the same force sent thru a smaller area makes it more obvious.

I think anyone who gets the chance should try both styles - or toss in Australian equitation as well.
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post #19 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 02:52 PM
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Thanks for all of the information, and to day will be the start of something new but deep down I Think Stella already knows she is just being Stella.

If it takes Stella 300 tries before getting it right how long will it take me and will I live long enough.

She is not as bad as I may have made her out to be, but has had quite a number of riders. When used by the hire company was all trused up so she could not raise or lower her head to any great degree. My first ride when deciding to buy her all of the bits and pieces came off, she was given freedom a bit and headstall and me. We both survived and home she came.

Now I will give a conentrated effort to the advice given and see what develops, off for the ride now.

My blog foremyhorse.org you may enjoy the read. Its different.
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post #20 of 31 Old 10-30-2011, 03:36 PM
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I LOVE the Walkie talkie Vs telephone analogy. I can use that when teaching folk to carriage drive 4 in hand, it's a very similar thing! Thank you......****wanders off with a big grin****
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