Transitioning from western to english riding
Okay, I know it seems like all the posts are repetitive on here, and everyone has their own "novice problems"
Well, here is mine :oops:
I have been riding most of my life. I used to barrel race and pole bend when I was a kid, then I worked on a horse trader ranch, then I rode for random people I met offline just to keep their horses exercised. I have only ridden in a western saddle, with jeans and my ariat boots. I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about english riding. I have never even touched an english saddle, or tried on a pair of breeches.
I have ridden everything from 3-22years old, off the track TB's, to your everyday ranch quarter horses, to an ex eventer morab, paso's, ponies... I mean I have experience with various breeds, personalities, ages, and talents.
Now here are my concerns. I have NEVER been professionally trained how to ride what so ever. Everything I know has been self taught and things I have picked up along the way of my 12 years riding. How hard is it going to be for me to transition from trail riding in a western saddle my self taught ways, to training to be a jumper in an english saddle with lessons? Shoot, I don't even know where to buy breeches or "tall boots"!
I have contacted two stables near where I am, and both seem friendly so I will go out and check them out and make sure english is something I want to do. Do I show up in jeans and boots? Is that acceptable?
I know the rodeo world and the western riding world is a tight knit community where everyone is friendly and it's a "are you thirsty darlin, want some tea?" kind of people, are english riders as friendly?
I guess my biggest concern is understanding HOW DIFFERENT it will be to put my butt in a pair of breeches and on a type of saddle I've never sat in before and listen to a trainer, with a type of people I have never ridden with before. I consider myself a confident intermediate rider when it comes to what I was doing, but to english riding and wanting to get into the world of jumping, I am a COMPLETE novice! Shoot, I have half a mind to tell the stables to treat me like I've NEVER been on a horse, so I can learn professionally from the ground up!
Am I over thinking this?:shock:
Recently I have done the opposite of you - I've been riding English for going on 15 years, and have just started riding in western saddles and getting into that style.
When I went to get on in a western saddle with my helmet and jodhpurs, well my friend made fun of me a bit. So I tried riding with jeans and spent a couple of minutes pulling and moving so my jeans sat right, and leaning over trying to get my foot in a swinging fender stirrup. I probably looked super silly. But it's all pretty easy. It took me about two rides to "give up" my dressage position, and let my leg inch forward a tad so I could do rising trot without bruising my thighs, but now it feels pretty normal.
You don't have to wear english gear to start with, you can still wear jeans and ariats until you get the hang of things, and as an english rider I'd more often wear tight pants rather than proper riding pants, just due to the cost.
I don't know what you're used to but if you're not used to riding with a contact then I think that will be a change. And a much smaller saddle, and really having to choose where you put your legs! I think you'll pick it up fine. A lot of riding is feel, and if you have that you just have to learn the technical stuff.
English riders... well to be honest I don't think they are as friendly. It's not because they ride English, but I think because of the people who get into each discipline. A lot of western riders are country people who, in my opinion, are more friendly in general, where as most English riders in my experience tend to be city people, and people who otherwise live non-horsey lives. And city people never seem as friendly.
I think you're over thinking it, I think you'll be fine, you just need to get the hang of it :-D
Once you ride in hot n humid weather, you'll dump your jeans! I hate to peel denim off when I'm sweaty. I thought growing up the English sect were uppity (have those is the Western world too), but in reality most are not and are very helpful. The thing for me was getting use (visually) to less saddle underneath me than the western saddle. I ride both now and enjoy both! It just ups your riding skills to participate in both disciplines, in my book.
I think you are overthinking. :)
I ride English and hate breeches. I ride in jeans, proper shoes (meaning with a heel) and half chaps. Often the shoes have been ariats. The half chaps protect your inner calves during posting and jumping.
As for friendliness, I think it depends on the barn.
And honestly, I started riding about seven years ago from nothing. You have such an advantage you know how to ride. A horse's mechanics does not change substantially from on discipline to the next. So to have the balance and to be familiar with the gaits is all grand.
I would think more whether lessons go well is more according to how well you take instruction. If you are there to learn and absorb knowledge, you'll do fine. If you are one of those know-it-alls (not saying you are), then receiving instruction is always difficult.
Saskia - us country folk sure are friendly! ;) lol. I have always been used to those kinds of people.
Saskia and Onuilmar - I do have balance. I can ride bareback all day, and I am pretty good at taking instructions! Ha, you can thank the army for that one. I always assumed horse back riding was like shooting a gun. It's easier to teach someone from nothing, then someone who has been doing it wrong the whole time. I'm not saying I've been doing it wrong by any means, but I am saying that the habits I have created during my relaxed western style is probably not something that will transition well to english? Then again, I see the points in already knowing how to ride, and how that could be an advantage. Confident? Yes. Cocky? NO! I am nervous lol. I am sure I will look like a goofball the first couple of times!
I am assuming that a couple private lessons would be the way to go when I get started? I hate talking in future context because I feel like everything I am saying is hypothetical! When I get home next month tho before I go on leave, I am going to check out BOTH barns and see which one is better suited for me. The one that is further away from me seems to be more friendly then the other one, but I don't mind driving an extra distance to feel more welcomed. Southern hospitality is what I enjoy!
As for relaxed habits, depends on what you mean. Chair seat is a no-no, but lightness in contact is good. The change there might be having contact all the time.
I remember when I first started, my instructor told me it would take two years to learn to walk, trot and canter with grace. (Understand, they had me cantering at lesson 3, which I am gathering here is unusual.) And he was right.
Just riding and developing balance and being familiar with the aides takes so long to develop that already knowing how to ride is an advantage.
So, good luck, have fun and don't worry about breeches at the outset. Only really need 'em for show days. :)
I used to board at a barn that was a mixture between English and western. I was in the middle if saddle training and everyone that was an English rider was always trying to force their methods on me like I was stupid but I guess they just don't understand that western methods can be different and even in the same discipline there are different methods. But my point is they were snooty and looked down on us western riders. I'm sure not all English riders are like this however.
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Learning a new riding style isn't all that hard, it's remembering to implement the changes what is!
I've ridden irregularly for around 15 years, without a single lesson until 2010. I used what I find to be the typical Aussie style - a very relaxed english, but not quite western. When I did get some lessons (as a part of a training course), I was lucky enough that the skills I had taught myself through reading and watching videos were fairly correct. Every now and then, I would find myself slipping back into old habits, namely not keeping contact on the bit and letting my legs slip forward.
Hit youtube and watch some English instructional videos, there are some great ones around that I resort to when I need a touch up or have completely forgotten something.
Tracer! I have been watching videos, mostly on DVD but I will check some out on youtube. The only problem with that is the internet is SOOO SLOW where I am!
And Sarah, yeah that's a concern of mine. I have never done anything with english riders, but they have always seemed snooty! Lol I guess we will see!
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