Making the Switch - Is it hard?

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Making the Switch - Is it hard?

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  • Hard to switch from western to english?
  • questions to ask potential riding instructor

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    06-01-2010, 12:23 AM
Question Making the Switch - Is it hard?

I've ridden horses since before I could walk (literally), though it's always been Western pleasure. Recently, my parents have decided that, if I pay for half of the costs, I can take lessons.
While I've always ridden Western, I've decided to expand my horizons and try English, maybe eventually getting into Jumping.
Is it a hard for a 14-year-old to switch from Western to English? I've always ridden at my grandparents, though I did take lessons when I was about 8 (my parents took an income cut soon after and we couldn't afford them anymore; our situation has changed since then).
Because of the afore-mentioned fact of riding at my grandparent's, I've never had much of a 'formal education', so to say. Will switching disciplines be kind of like learning to ride again? Also, my grandparent's horses use a lot of neck-rein. Is it difficult to switch from neck-rein to mostly leg-rein?
Also, what questions should we ask possible riding instructors (what a typical lesson entails, what's required of students, things like that)?
Thanks, guys, and sorry if this doesn't make much sense :P I'll try to clarify as much as I can.
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    06-01-2010, 01:11 PM
I'm sixteen, and I recently made the switch.

One thing for sure--in western riding you do use a lot of leg cues. The problem is the saddle makes it harder for you to do so. Therefore, most cues are brought on by reining.

I think horses and people should be double-sided. I know western pleasure horses that direct rein. The old horse I rode had to be neck reined, otherwise he would wish to go quickly. Switching helps define your seat, and your balance especially, and it can be a little scary if you're on a big horse to have nothing supporting you but your own seat.

It took me about a day to 'learn to ride'. The biggest thing I have noticed is your ability to be closer to the horse, and therefore move with the rhythm. Posting may seem a bit odd for you at first, but concentrate on going with the rhythm in all gaits. One difference is the walk especially, and to keep an upright walk that is engaged, rather than the mosey-ing along a trail sort of walk pleasure horses may have.

I hope I'm making sense.

But let me make you aware of one thing. Riding horses is like figure skating, dancing, and many other hobbies that are often begun at a young age. But just because a lot of people start when they are two or three does not mean that everyone does, nor does it mean that you do not have the potential to catch up to their skill level in a shorter amount of time than it took them to learn. As a young adult you will be more educated in horses in general and have a good foundation, and probably catch on quicker, than a little kid would. Don't worry at all about your age. I know plenty of adults that begin when they are older.

As for questions, make sure you find a trainer you like. Please. From the way you sound, it sounds like you have been in a family-filled pleasurable environment. Some trainers can be hard and expect the best out of you, and be like a military official. For some people that is good for them and gives them a challenge in confidence. However, some trainers can be like your best friend, and help you by gentleness and sweet words. Don't worry so much about what they are teaching you at first as to how you like them. If you feel stressed out at any time, or uncomfortable, find another trainer.

    06-01-2010, 03:09 PM
Thanks for the advice :)
And, yes, Western does use a lot of leg cues... but not as much as English (or so I've been told). Also, my Grandpa bought his horses already broke... and the people who broke them used almost all direct rein.
    06-01-2010, 04:13 PM

Well think of your seat and your reins. You should be able to move a horse western or English with just leg and seat aids ^^
    06-02-2010, 06:36 PM
I switched at thirteen. I still am keeping western as my main and mos timportant focus but I started jumping and doing a little dressage when I was thirteen. I found it just as difficult to learn english, but alreayd having a riding background there was no confidence issues or problems with the horse. I learned on Jester, and since he was the horse I was riding at six months old I knew him really well. He had hunter jumper training from my good friend and trainer so I knew about him, and I made the switch very smoothly.

You ride bareback? Just imagine that with stirrups and you got english. That's the blunt way of putting it. Yes, you have a little bit more of a leg grip but as far as I'm concerned its just as slippery and just as difficult. I can't say english is harder than western (Because it's not) but it definitely is a bit of an interesting change.

My suggestion: Start riding bareback before you take english lessons. That way you can get lots of leg muscle built up without paying for the workout, and learn on a horse you know really well. I tohught my legs had a lot of muscle from riding western but then I got in the english saddle and it was like BAM, within a few weeks I had double the muscle and double the balance.
    06-02-2010, 06:48 PM
I'm 13 and just made the switch. Bought an OTTB for eventing (only to find out later that she had a slab fracture and surgery--her knees don't lock over jumps so she goes DOWN. Big time. Anyway, she'll be my mom's horse.....and I'm on the lookout for an eventer.

First time I rode the OTTB I bought (test riding) the BO of the stable I was seeing her at couldn't believe I'd never been in an English saddle before!! Long-leggedness is apparently an advantage for English riding moreso than Western lol. I find it relatively easy to ride English; the biggest change is posting.....especially coming from someone who's ridden gaited horses most of her life!
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