Switching from Western to English
A previous post got me thinking about another topic: Has anyone else switched from the Western discipline to English (or perhaps, vice versa?)
What was the biggest surprise for you?
I just switched from three years of reining and barrel racing to learning English equitation and Hunter Hack. Of course the first thing I noticed is: It's harder to NOT fall off an English saddle! No saddle horn! Also, I discovered muscles I never knew I had :-P The form is very different and can be a little painful for beginners. Combine the proper form with trotting and: I'm super exhausted pretty quickly!
I'm enjoying the new experience though :) I just eat dirt more often!
I was vice versa, a long time ago, going from jumper/dressage to reining/pleasure. The first thing I learned was how very different the seat positions were. I was the opposite of you, I found, and still find, it easier to fall out of the western saddle. Don't ask me how that is, I still don't know why. It takes a lot of practice to get used to, good luck!
Both approaches give a secure seat, but it is different. My impressions from using both but not competing or formally training in either is that the deeper and larger western saddle gives some of the security that comes from your lower leg in a hunt seat. I feel less secure in a western saddle than my English-based Australian saddle, because I lose the lower leg contact and it leaves me feeling like I'm just sitting on top of the horse instead of wrapped around her.
I did this when I went to college. The English riding classes were the only ones that fit my schedule, so I took them even though I had never ridden English in my life. I hated it at first, but it was the only way to get to ride. I found the saddle uncomfortable, and some days I'd get so frustrated with it that I'd opt to ride bareback. A dressage saddle isn't as different as a jumping saddle, so those are easier for me to feel balanced in. I've also had a hard time learning to maintain contact. I like to let my reins slip looser, especially at the canter. This was less of a problem at the university, where I was jumping and doing more hunter type stuff on western trained quarter horses, but is making learning dressage really hard. I also had to learn to post the trot, which I still don't like, but appreciate more now that I lack ab muscles. I'm making it sound like I don't like English riding, but really, I do, it has just been harder for me to adapt. I enjoy jumping and dressage both, and they give me goals now that I don't have a ranch and cattle to work. Gives me something to do in a small space, too. I also think that English riding requires a lot more rider skill and precision, while the kind of western riding I did (ranch work, working young horses) requires a certain confidence and relaxation that many English riders lack. I never showed western or did much arena work, so maybe that is part of why they seem so different to me. Good luck with your switch!
I have been going back and forth with English and Western in my lessons. I think I'm just a weirdo though, lol, because I can even do both on the same day and I don't have any issues with balance or sitting or feeling strange or anything. :) (Of course I am still learning and what I need to work on in one discipline transfers over to the other, like working on my hands..) When I first started riding I did Western, then I switched and the English saddle took me a lesson to get used to. I did English for a couple of months and the more I do it the easier it is to go back and forth. I think, (for me at least), the most important thing is feeling balanced. There are differences in how you sit but I think it's one of those things that the more you do it the easier it gets. I think the hardest part of English for me is the posting trot but I find that improving those leg muscles helps me in both saddles so even though I get achey as heck, it's worth it! I've also been doing exercises to improve my core so maybe that has something to do with it too. Or maybe it's because I'm still fairly new at it so I'm still flexible in how I think and do things and hadn't settled into a super set way of doing things yet. :-)
(Editing to add that the horses I ride, one is trained in both barrel and english the other is western pleasure.)
I was a die hard western trail rider and when I met my bestie in college she tried getting me to switch to English even gave me a few English lessons on her Appy gelding(who is retired with me, now going on 5 years off Huntseat) and that was how I ever did my first gallop. My biggest thing is I've fallen off more times than I care to count western- never a once, even on my greenie horse have I falled off English. I seem to stick to my English saddle WAY better, but I can't post to save my life-except when I'm in a western saddle(I tried it just to see if I could do it) Posted great with the western saddle, but could not in the english. Royal weirdo!!
I'll be getting lessons this winter with my green bean horse. Thankfully the old Appy gelding does go both western and English(other than being retired now). I really would like to do some English flat classes and aim towards dressage with my big mare.
I switched from english to western for two weeks in college. I did a lousy job on my tryouts for my schools ISHA team and on a whim decided to try out for the developing Western team with no Western experience. I made a "training" level of the team where they saw potential and were going to train me to compete the next show season.
To put it simply I was terrified. Coming from an all English background I had learned riding needed to be structured, posting had to be done, and position had to be perfect. While I'm sure if I stuck with it longer I would have learned Western could be structured as well I felt out of control and that my reins were too long, my stirrups too long, and that my horse was "running away with me" (although this wasn't the case). I'd like to go back and try western at some point.
I do both, but rode western or bareback my whole life until this year. The hardest point for me was actually taking lessons. I hate not being good at something, especially riding, so I just got really frustrated with myself for not being perfect right away. Now I enjoy both. I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm teaching myself to enjoy the process. I'm okay until I mess up! A big adjustment for me was not dropping the outside rein. I rode on a loose rein, so I have to remind myself to keep tighter contact.
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