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Question: English/Western differences and "just for fun" riding

This is a discussion on Question: English/Western differences and "just for fun" riding within the New to Horses forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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        07-18-2013, 03:14 AM
      #11
    Green Broke
    I guess trail riding in western saddles in more common in the US, but here in Australia many riders just do trail riding and even short endurance rides in English saddles. It's just the done thing really. You don't even think about it because it's the only saddle you really ride in. Learning at pony club we'd even do a little basic cattle work in our dressage saddles. As a kid I'd ride out for hours, sometimes riding in a jump saddle, but usually a dressage one! You'd probably find that while learning, whether english or western, you'll end up doing circlework and arena work for a while. That's where you'll learn your control, where the instructor can watch you and teach you, and later you'll have the skills to ride out. After all you can go to many places and go for an hour trail ride if that's what you want, but you're going to a riding school where they actually teach you to ride.

    Two point, well you might not find yourself using it a lot but it's teaching you balance and you use your balance all the time in any discipline.

    I think its good to learn English first. I learned english and when I went into a western saddle it felt a tad different but I would still ride the same, and never touch the horn, all in all a very easy change Where as the other way around, peoples seem to find it a lot harder to switch to english.
         
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        07-18-2013, 11:03 AM
      #12
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Saskia    
    You'd probably find that while learning, whether english or western, you'll end up doing circlework and arena work for a while. That's where you'll learn your control, where the instructor can watch you and teach you, and later you'll have the skills to ride out. After all you can go to many places and go for an hour trail ride if that's what you want, but you're going to a riding school where they actually teach you to ride.

    Two point, well you might not find yourself using it a lot but it's teaching you balance and you use your balance all the time in any discipline.

    I think its good to learn English first. I learned english and when I went into a western saddle it felt a tad different but I would still ride the same, and never touch the horn, all in all a very easy change Where as the other way around, peoples seem to find it a lot harder to switch to english.
    Yes, that's exactly what we're doing right now -- circles, circles, and more circles. And yes, she's teaching me to ride, which requires much more than I had realized. I went to a schooling show last weekend, to watch, and learned that they have to tell the horse to jump. (Right?) I was talking with one of the mothers and she was trying to explain some things to me. I had always though the just ran the horse up to the bar or whatever and then it just jumped. Lol Guess I have a lot to learn.

    So far I'm not actually missing the saddle horn, but we have only walked ands trotted on a rope, and I'm on a sweet school quarter pony who hasn't given me any reason to wish I had one. She did have one tiny little trip that sent my heart racing, and after all these years I remembered what it's like to be scared on a horse.

    Is there any reason the Western saddles are bigger/different? I know I am in some kind of close contact saddle, which means I think that I can feel the horse more and maybe the horse can feel me more -- I know it gives me more contact but right now that something I can repeat without really understanding munch about it or why it is desirable. I understand why a Western saddle would have a horn, but why is it bigger and more padded? Why do the stirrups have the piece of leather that the English ones don't?
         
        07-18-2013, 11:17 AM
      #13
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by onuilmar    

    Indirect or neck reining is used for well trained horses and it is mostly associated with Western riding. That is because the indirect method allows the rider to hold something else (maybe a rope or a weapon) in his other hand.

    This indirect reining also means that the rider is really guiding the horse with his legs and his seat (as well as the position of the upper body). And the better English riders (whether jumping or dressage or whatever) also use the body more than the hands.

    As for balance, that is what really allows the rider to stay on a horse, especially at the faster gaits. Believe it or not, the reins are not for the rider's balance (and as a new rider, one is soooo tempted to do so), but only there for steering.

    So if you really need help to not fall off, grab a few handfuls of mane. (That's what it's there for. )
    Ahh...ok, that makes sense. I bet my cousins did indirect/neck reining. I'm picturing the rains laying on the horses neck, on the opposite side of the direction I'm turning. That is how they taught me, so no wonder I didn't realize I needed to pull straight back rather than out to the side.

    I hope I'm not balancing myself with the reins. I'll have to pay attention to that next time. I don't "feel" like I am, but then again I'm not sure I'd recognize how that feels, or how it feels not to use them for balance,so will have to pay close attention. Thanks.
         
        07-18-2013, 11:45 AM
      #14
    Foal
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by LilacsBloom    
    I hope I'm not balancing myself with the reins. I'll have to pay attention to that next time. I don't "feel" like I am, but then again I'm not sure I'd recognize how that feels, or how it feels not to use them for balance,so will have to pay close attention. Thanks.
    Don't worry. You'll know when you pull on the rein to re-balance yourself. :) One of the things you'll notice is that there no steady point on the reins to help establish balance.

    Mostly this happens when the rider is caught unawares by an unexpected change in direction: the horse swerved or spooked or something.

    Hope this helps.
         
        07-18-2013, 02:43 PM
      #15
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Is there any reason the Western saddles are bigger/different?
    Western saddles were designed to be big and strong to be used to rope and handle cattle with. When a 1/2 ton of cow (and quite often, much heavier) is on the end of a rope, the saddle takes a beating.

    Obviously, these days, most western saddles are used for things other than roping. But the design is the central focus of "riding western", so the basic design has remained unchanged.
         
        07-18-2013, 04:30 PM
      #16
    Trained
    A western saddle was also designed for riding 12+ hour days. There is a world of difference between a 45 minute ride and a 4 hour ride. I haven't tried 12+ hours, but I wouldn't want to try it in my English CC saddle. It also distributes weight over a larger area of the horse's back, which is nice for the horse with heavier riders or longer rides. A western saddle doesn't seem to have that much impact on the horse feeling your cues. A horse is so sensitive that a well trained horse will darn near read your mind, regardless of saddle type.
         
        07-18-2013, 05:08 PM
      #17
    Yearling
    I've done all day rides and find that a padded deep seat with knee and thigh rolls makes for me the most comfortable choice. I hurt after 4 hours in a western saddle. I'm liking everything about my new Aussie except the horn. I may give my DH's a try (no horn, even deeper seat) and if I like it get a similar one with padding or find a seat cover. I had a friend with a plantation saddle that was super comfortable for long rides.
         
        07-18-2013, 05:48 PM
      #18
    Showing
    As a teen, I rode English. I leased a great jumping horse altho my skill level was nowhere near his but we kept the BO's show horses fit with lots of trail riding and popping over the knee high jumps we'd built on the trails. We'd also do gymkhana for a change. One builds a better seat and legs by taking on more challenges. Riding a variety of horses also improves the skill level.
         
        07-25-2013, 02:37 AM
      #19
    Foal
    I did my first 3 lessons on a Western saddle. I asked my coach if we could switch to English after that. I was doing amazing on the western but I'd heard from a few different people that English is harder so I should get it out of the way first lol. (Since I did want to learn it.)

    I have to say Western was more comfortable. I think it was the size that made me feel more stable up there. When I switched to English the first lesson was mostly about me realizing how much more I had to balance suddenly. And then trotting in it I was like- wow, huge difference! I felt like I went from starting to get the hang of trotting and doing good to back at the baby steps stage. It was all a good learning experience though.
         
        07-25-2013, 03:54 AM
      #20
    Super Moderator
    Although learning about all types of riding is fascinating, if you are learning English because that's what's available, then to a certain extent, you might want to focus on it and learn it without so much concern as to how it stacks up against other riding styles.
         

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