I can't decide if I should learn English or Western
I'll be starting my lessons in Jan or Feb and I'm still undecided if I should learn western or english. Where I live there is only a small handful of trainers for beginners and none of them teach both, just one or the other.
Before I was 100% dead set on western, but now english is growing on me so I'm completely unsure. I want to do trail riding (long and short), jumping (not hunter) and cross country jumping. But I'm not a fan of posting in english riding, I don't like the way it looks.
I've read that it's hard to go from western to english, but not hard to go from english to western. Is this true? If it is, I assume it would make the most sense to start with english?
I think it's actually easier to go from western to english. My old BO would teach the kids western and when she felt they had a good seat, she'd switch them to english. She said it was all because western gives you a good seat, since the english saddle is a little different.
I rode western for 3 years and got bored of it and switched to english and I love it. I'm starting eventing in 2012 and I can't wait. But I have a western saddle too so we can still go on trail rides. c:
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If you have a good instructor, good balance, and learn the fundamentals of communicating with your horse using your seat, legs, and hands, you should have no problem switching from one to the other.
The biggest problem I've seen in folks switching from english to western is with folks that have 'hard' hands and not feeling comfortable riding with a loose rein (vs. with contact). Western horses are used to having their head, and a person that is constantly in their mouth for balance or a sense of control will drive them to a head shaking fit.
Good luck, enjoy, and be safe either way you choose.
I completely agree with painthorsemares. A girl who boards at the barn has an a lot younger cousin that comes and takes western pleasure lessons from her and she is constantly telling the little girl to give the horse his head. And I mean constantly. She actually told me she is waiting for Scout to get tired of it and throw her or something.
I can switch from western to english pretty easily but I started western. I think that the western saddle just gives you more security than an english. Funny thing about posting... I actually do it in my western saddle, Coppers trot is not very fluid so it is way more comfy for me to post lol.
My question is how soon are you looking into jumping? If it is something that you want to go into that you want to go into right away, probably learn engilsh first. It will be geared towards what you want to do in the long run. If you want to wait a bit and just do the lessons and trail rides than western. I don't know this from experience but I've heard my friend (who is the only english rider/jumper at our barn; bless her little heart lol) that the long trails rides we go on are not the most fun thing to go on in her english/jumping saddle.
Why not take a few lessons of each to see which you enjoy most, then continue down that path?
You might find you really prefer one over the other.
Jumping uses a forward seat, which is a very different approach to riding than a western seat. The forward lean, hollow loin, tension in the leg and weight in the stirrups (usually called weight in the heel, but an unsupported heel cannot have weight) - that is a very different approach to staying on a horse than relaxed legs, deep seat & relaxed back of a western rider. It is not, IMHO, right or wrong - but it is very right for jumping.
A dressage seat has more in common with a western seat, and switching between those ought to be pretty easy.
If you go English, you will need to post. A western saddle is designed to distribute weight over a larger area of the horse's back, and the weight bearing surfaces go well behind the cantle. Australian and dressage saddles are kind of medium in the back, and both can be ridden either way. A jump saddle has more of the weight distributing area in the front, and it isn't fair to ride long sessions of sitting trot in it. At least, that is what my horses seem to tell me. However, a post does NOT require someone to look like a jack-in-the-box.
English saddle tree:
it sounds like you want to do english activities more than western so thats whzt you should go with. there are alot of western camps/vacations and once you learn english it should be easy enough to do western. if at some point you just want to chill and go for relaxed trail ride, just lengthen the stirrups. I was having trouble deciding and at first i was doing western but then i wasnt enjoying it as much as i should have so i started jumping english and love it!
I learned Western, then tried English because I wanted to jump... Very different disciplines and I agree with trying lessons in both and go with what you like more. You can do trails just effectively in English as Western riding, so I would lean more toward English. You learn to post in Western too, and it looks just as wonky as English haha. But it's not impossible to switch from one to the other, so if you try both go with what you like more and come back to the other later. Just explain to the trainers/coaches your plans if you do decide to try each.
Take a lesson or two of each and then decide. I started in english because that's all that was around me. My dad rode western and wanted me to eventually switch to that so we could do roping and cutting and all that. However, I accidentally jumped one day and never looked back. I've rode english for a good 24 years and am a terrible western rider. Every single time I've been in a western saddle (like 4 x) I've fallen off. Stick me on a bolting, bucking, rearing horse in an english saddle and I'll be fine, but put me in a western saddle and heaven forbid the horse twitch an ear...I'm off! I don't think that's normal though.
It'll all be what's comfortable to you. To me, an english saddle is extremely comfortable and I can trail ride in mine all day long. Western just feels bulky and unnatural. And it's the opposite for many people. Just FYI though, jumping cross country is awesome!
Western riders post, too, or at least should. It's only in the slow jog of WP or reining showing that you sit the "trot." Posting is good horsemanship, protecting your mount's back as well as your own comfort.
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