English Saddles on Trails - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 03-13-2011, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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English Saddles on Trails

Someone told me riding English trail riding is not safe. Is this true? Would it be better to get an endurance saddle instead?

After trying yet another saddle on Chili, I began to wonder if my riding skills had just - diminished - over the years. So, I rode her bareback today and did oh so much better. I didn't lose my seat, kept rhythm with her movement and felt so much more in control. I realized it was due to my leg pressure. In a Western saddle, I have never been able to manage to use leg pressure. I think it's because I learned to ride English. In fact, when I trot in a Western saddle, I immediately want to post - ESPECIALLY - when I'm in a too small saddle (like the one I bought recently) and get jostled around. I cannot seem to keep my seat in a Western saddle. I do not know if it's because the seat is too small, therefor causing me issues, or if it's because I just can't get the hang of it?? I did fine last summer at the stable where I volunteered using their saddles. I'm *assuming* it's the saddle seat, not the fact that I just can't ride! LOL As I said, I kinda confirmed that with riding her bareback today.

But if I'm more comfortable riding English - is there a problem using one on a trail??

Michele
"Not evil, dear. Wicked." - Once Upon A Time.
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post #2 of 30 Old 03-13-2011, 08:20 PM
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Riding trail in an english saddle is really not a problem at all. Endurance saddles come in both english and western styles, and it's all rider preference. In fact the english versions are more popular with many because they tend to be lighter and allow more ventilation. Some people only feel secure on trail if they've got a horn to grab onto I guess....I feel safer if there's no horn to gut me when I duck under a tree!

It's all up to you, but if it was unsafe to trail ride english they wouldn't make so many english endurance saddles :) If you plan on riding for hours on end it may be a comfort thing to have one that's endurance, but that's all. They also make hybrids that are in between english and western styles.

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post #3 of 30 Old 03-13-2011, 08:33 PM
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i have ridden literally thousands of miles in an english-type saddle, exclusively on trails.

use what fits your horse and you--be it english, western, aussie or other.


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post #4 of 30 Old 03-13-2011, 08:35 PM
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It all depends on security. Some people think they are unsafe because you dont have anything to hold on to or hold you in but if you're a good rider it wont really matter.
I've found for long rides, a good western is a heck of a lot comfortable than an english but just my OP.
Westerns set you farther back, nearer the center of the horse's back, whereas an english puts you up and closer to the shoulders.
There's also alot more places to attach stuff to on a western. An endurance would have these options as well.
The only time i've ever been gutted by a horn is when i was younger & tried to jump my pony lol and i do alot of hard trail riding. Especially in the mountains, a western is more practical as the horn & high front gives you something to brace against when going down steep hills. But it's not a rule.

I know a transition between western & english can be difficult for some as western riding requires you to be more relaxed in the sense that you lean back (not TOO far) and simply move with the horse. There's also nothing wrong with posting in a western saddle. I also personally think that because a western does set you back a little more that you get more action from the back end instead of rising and falling nicely with an english. Again, just my OP.

Big thing with westerns is that you tend to ride with your stirrups longer than you would in an english. Coming from somone who always used to ride with my stirrups up high and legs bent, I've found having them long helps with being able to apply leg pressure and balance better in a western. Again, it takes some getting used to nomatter what your transitioning to.

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post #5 of 30 Old 03-13-2011, 09:01 PM
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^I get gutted every time I ride western...I'm just too used to laying flat on my horse to get under things...I forget that horn is there I guess. I typically ride in endurance saddles, but of the english version. I see your point on going downhill, which is why the saddles are nice that have no horn, but still have that pommel in front that you could grab onto or that could brace you in a down-hill. I ride with extremely long stirrups...there's nothing about an english saddle that makes it so that your stirrups have to be long...it's just more typical that somebody riding english might have them short...anyway, yeah, it's all rider preference. I personally feel like I'm sitting on a 2x4 in most western saddles. (unless they are the endurance version)

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post #6 of 30 Old 03-13-2011, 09:16 PM
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^^ i just meant that it's better/easier to ride a western if your stirrups are long because a western sets you back and therefor having short stirrups makes it harder to bring your legs back or in (it feels more awkward). Whereas in an english, they tend to give you more upward/forward support.

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post #7 of 30 Old 03-13-2011, 09:24 PM
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if you can ride on a trail bareback why would someyone think riding in a english saddle would be not safe lol that to funny.

It's all in preference like everyone said here :) I rather ride in english, I feel comfy-er. Plus once I was riding a horse for a friend and she started her buck attakes and the horn got me in the chest and actually riped my shirt and nocked the wind out of me and that why i feel and almost got stamped on . It was fun tho lol ;)

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post #8 of 30 Old 03-13-2011, 09:30 PM
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I plan on hitting the trails with my treeless dressage saddle. ^_^ It's all about what you're secure with. I like to be able to move more freely with my horse.

Last edited by Eolith; 03-13-2011 at 09:39 PM.
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post #9 of 30 Old 03-14-2011, 12:37 AM
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It would only be "not safe" if your horse is not safe in general on the trail. We trail ride in English saddles quite frequently. Some of my students will use a western saddle if they are feeling a bit unsure of the ride or their mount, or if they want to carry extra packs. I use a western style endurance saddle, but that is just my preference. It doesn't really hold me in any better than a good Dressage saddle .
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post #10 of 30 Old 03-14-2011, 12:43 AM
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I don't even own a Western Saddle (well technically I do but my rear is not going into a 12" saddle!).

I trail ride in my Dressage saddle, the stirrups are long and it's really comfy. I do have a grab strap on it which would serve the same purpose as a horn. It's not something I tend to use though, just there for "in-case".
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