How similar are Western and English Riding?
I ride English, but I've always wanted to try western, it just looks so...cool! I just wanted to try it for maybe a few lessons and see what I think of it, but I'm a little worried - I took ages to learn English :/ I mean I struggled to do the rising trot on the right diagonal , I always lost my balance I struggle not to pull myself up on the reins - generally had a rough time learning. I ride much more comfortably now, but what is the transition like? Is it easy(ish) to ride western after you rode English and vise versa? I'm just worried that if its totally different I'll really struggle with it.
Now that you have a good foundation in riding of any style, you may not find it so difficult to make the adjustments between English and Western.
I think the things you have to get used to are:
Having a longer leg.
sitting up more straight.
trusting the horse on a longer rein.
Don't go looking around the corner for you next jump when all you are doing is a small circle. That's a dead giveaway for a former hunter/jumper rider.
keep a bendin your elbow and think more of "lifting" the rein than pulling back.
Oh, you know if you ride jumps that as soon as you finish one jump you are supposed to turn you head toward the inside of your turn and focus on the next jump. Jumpers will put a lot of turn in their head, even when riding western. So, I meant don't put much turn in your head . In Western, look no more inside the circle than your horse's inside ear for the most part.
I was taught to look where you are going. Doesn't matter if it is western, English or on a motorcycle...
I found western riding more relaxed. It isn't oriented to shows and doesn't care a lot about position. If your position sucks, your horse will move slower or less eagerly, but there aren't many western events were someone is going to score you. There are SOME, but only a small percentage of western riders participate.
When I ride western, I often use a forward seat combined with long stirrups. If anyone notices, I just tell them the truth - my horses seem more willing and comfortable that way. The more traditional, on your pockets and feet forward also works pretty good, although it will tire your horse faster.
"Pink" Murray, famous gunfighter and wagon boss of the OR outfit in southern Arizona. He was later killed in a saloon gunfight in Hermosillo, Mexico. OR Range, Arizona., 1909
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But at a walk or jog, I find the above style comfortable and my horses are content - just so long as I don't ask them for a fast trot or fast canter like that.
My guess is that you'll find it very easy to pick up. Riding with one hand and neck reining may feel odd at first, but I think you will find fun.
Thank you for the tips and that. It looks like a lot of fun so I hope I pick it up quickly enough. The neck reining is the thing I think I'll struggle with the most.
You do't have to neck rein. Lots and lots of western riders don't neck rein. I don't neck rein and I ride western. I use heavy mecate rope reins and direct rein.
I rode dressage for some years, then started riding western 4 years ago. One thing that I appreciate about riding western is being more relaxed, riding pretty much just off my seatbones, (no gripping leg, as you might in English) and letting the horse have a loose rein when I can trust him. I got better at being comfortable letting him trot or canter with loose reins. Before I had tended to feel uncomfortable unless I had the hrose "on the bit" and feeling his mouth the whole time. Now I am better able to let him figure things out himself. I will still take up contact, if needed , but do not "ride the brakes" at all.
You do look where you are going, but you do not do it as dramatically as hunter/jumpers do when scoping out the next jump.
I does sound like it's more relaxed. I'm looking forward to being able to experience it but I don't have the money yet until I get back from my holiday so I'll wait a bit. I'll be sure to get someone to take pictures of me so I can post them here though :D
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