Total Newb Question - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 10:33 AM Thread Starter
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Total Newb Question

Hi all!

I have always wanted to ride but have never had the time or the funds. Now I am in my 40's, my kids are raised and Im able to afford it. Finally! lol

So I called one of the barns in our local area and inquired about lessons. They asked me if I am interested in learning English or Western. I have no they told me to figure it out and call back.

I've looked all the many sports and activities you can do with a horse to try and get a feel for what I would be interested in. I do not want to show or jump. I would like to trail ride with the end goal (if I like it) to do some endurance rides (probably years from now).

Anyhow, I guess what Im asking is if my end goal is endurance riding, do I sign up for english or western lessons at the riding barn?

Thanks so much guys and I'm glad to have found this forum.
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post #2 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 10:38 AM
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I would suggest Western.
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post #3 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 10:53 AM
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Welcome to the forum!

Hmmm...I would have thought that a good teacher would listen to what you want to do and start you where he/she felt you would be the most comfortable learning the basics. That being said, I would probably suggest starting out western. Maybe it's a bit less intimidating and the saddle is more secure. Once you have learned balance and have a good feel for what you are doing you can always move to English.
This is so exciting for you! We will be interested to hear about you adventures.
It can be wonderful, frustrating, sometimes a bit scary, but always interesting.
Be relaxed, patient and never judge your progress by someone else's. You are in this for the enjoyment!!!!!!

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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post #4 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 10:58 AM
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Start with English as it will help you develop a good seat plus all the other positives. When a person is proficient in English, riding western is a piece of cake. Also with English you will develop a feel for the horse's mouth.
Saddlebag is offline  
post #5 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 11:38 AM
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Location: southern Arizona
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I would start western. If the horse hits the fan, a saddle horn can help keep you from sliding off sideways. I started at 50 and see nothing amusing about falling off. A western saddle distributes weight over a larger area, which dampens the effect of bad riding by a new rider. You will do some bouncing while learning, so why not get the bouncing out of the way with a saddle that provides more protection for the horse's back? The picture below compares some saddles:

You can learn balance just as well with a western saddle as with an English one. The balance has a somewhat different feel because the saddles have different shapes. I suspect the big difference is psychological. My Australian saddle feels just like my English one if I close my eyes, but I feel almost naked in the English one when I open my eyes. It has nothing to do with how one rides, it just looks like something is missing...namely, the mickey mouse ears (called poleys) on an Australian saddle. Pictures of both below:

IMHO, all beginning riders should start by riding with slack in the reins. You can ride a lot of miles outside an arena without needing to develop a 'feel for the horse's mouth'. And frankly, I think there are a lot more riders who think they have a feel than there are ones who actually have a feel. Horses can behave fine with a bit of slack. VS Littauer loved jumping and English riding, but he concluded 80-90% of riding can be done with slack reins.

There is also a good chance your goals will change after you start riding. I originally started English because I wanted to do jumping. With time, I noticed I wasn't fond of riding around an arena and there wasn't much a person can safely jump in the southern Arizona desert. I went from English to Australian, then switched to using a western approach to using the reins with an Australian saddle, and have ended up western in both saddle and bridle.

Others go the opposite route, and neither is wrong. Some people start western and discover it is dressage that thrills them. Until you've spent some time on horses, you won't know for why not start with something that is forgiving to the horse's back?

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #6 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 11:55 AM
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I would choose a western saddle, but go with a good dressage instuctor. The western saddle will give you more security, and dressage basics will give you the best most secure and correct seat. I am a western rider, always have been but was taught the basics of dressage. It gave me a fantastic foundation. It has saved my ass more than once and kept me in the saddle!
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Draft lover is offline  
post #7 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 03:36 PM
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It depend on the quality of the instruction at that barn. If they have a really good English instructor, go that way, and vice versa.

I think that most people who ride endurance either stand in the stirrups, or post for long distances. So, learning to post would be helpful.

I guess, I would consider learning English first, though it's a tough call.
go watch some lessons. that will help a lot in making your decision.
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post #8 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 04:43 PM
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As a forty-something beginner, samirish would do well to start with Western, in my opinion. Reasons being:

(1) A Western horse tends to have a more "sit-able" jog, as opposed to posting a teeth-rattling trot. Sitting the jog will be easier on your nearing-middle-aged knees.

(2) Because of the horn, a Western saddle will make a beginner feel more secure. (No, you're not supposed to hang on to it, but it's there if you feel you need it. It's a mental thing.)

(3) If trail/endurance riding is your goal, you'll want to get used to a Western or endurance type saddle. Trying out as many as possible in lessons will help you determine what kind you'd like to buy in the future.

(4) Do you really want to invest English riding gear -- breeches, chaps/half-chaps -- when a decent pair of jeans with some flex (spandex) will do just fine on the trail?

(5) CONTINUITY. If the OP starts with an English instructor, she will probably need to change instructors and/or barns to get Western lessons eventually.

Now before I get my English-riding brethren worked into a lather, y'all should know that I began riding as a child by taking English lessons; I own English and Western saddles; and I choose to trail ride in breeches and half-chaps because I think they're more comfortable than jeans. (My personal preference.) I enjoy both disciplines. But since the OP specified endurance riding as a goal, my recommendation is: Get started going in that direction.

Just my two cents.

Happy trails, samirish! :)
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Vive equo
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post #9 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by samirish View Post
Hi all!

I have always wanted to ride but have never had the time or the funds. Now I am in my 40's, my kids are raised and Im able to afford it. Finally! lol

So I called one of the barns in our local area and inquired about lessons. They asked me if I am interested in learning English or Western. I have no they told me to figure it out and call back.
Wrong answer. I hope you've lost their #. You are 100% the demographic that the industry needs. A response such as that would make me feel unwanted for sure.

As far as what discipline to focus on, it doesn't really matter. What does matter is you find a competent instructor who can present the information in such a way that you can visualize what is being said and you respond to. Good lesson horses are a must. Just as important is the vibe of the facility. Are there people there who you can see as friends? Do they have some of the same goals and aspirations? Go to a prospective barn on a Saturday morning when most are hopping and chaotic. Is it all teenagers who aspire to show or gossip about the other riders behind their back? Probably don't want to go there. Or is it a more mature group (kids can be mature) there for the shear pleasure of it? Don't get caught up in a top facility with all the class and polish. What's the condition of the horses on the property? Watch a lesson or two and then talk to them if you like what you see.

Your goals and aspirations will change as you spend some time riding. A new friend will take you to a team penning and that will look like fun. You'll fall in love with a horse that knows how to drive and well I should try that. You want some alone time and all of a sudden, you need to go off on a trail ride all by yourself.... You just never know.
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post #10 of 26 Old 02-08-2014, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
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Thank you so much guys for you very helpful responses. I think I will sign up for the western lessons. To bsms: Your horse is gorgeous, and you look very at ease in the saddle. I hope I can look like that one day. For now, Im a bit nervous but feeling better now that I've decided on what kind of lessons to take.

Thanks so much again for the responses :)
samirish is offline  

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