Trying western after 15 years of English
I've been riding for 15 years, and have done both jumping and dressage. I've been strictly English my whole life, doing dressage for the past 8 years and jumping before that.
For a while now I've been wanting to learn a bit about western riding, as I think it'd be great to have at least a working knowledge of this different style. I was given a paint horse recently, and plan to work with him to build up my experience and knowledge of western riding, and am wondering if anyone has any tips as far as which discipline to start with, and how I would go about finding a good trainer in this area? What do I look for? What are warning signs of a poor western trainer?
I don't want to do any showing, I'm really interested in the more 'practical' skills (for lack of a better description) such as those that would be useful should I ever work on a cattle ranch, or anything like that.
Any other tips would be greatly appreciated!
Without knowing where you are it will be hard to suggest a trainer!
It is a good plan to have someone teach you, the whole thing feels a bit odd to start with riding without contact takes some getting used to for sure. Be prepared to get hooked, (and not only on the saddle horn as you dismount) I was an English rider for many years, then converted, it's great.
Well, I'm not quite good for giving tips on picking out trainers - as I don't have one I learn on my own. :)
But I would look at some Parelli groundwork and Buck Brannaman techniques. Parelli I only use for groundwork because it is very good, it helps get better communication and bonds with your horse.
Buck Brannaman is good for everything else, hehe! He has great groundwork and warm-up riding tips.
This link has some great tips for learning more as well.
HorseQuest Instructional Videos - eXtension
I am quite excited to be learning something completely new! I could probably do very basic stuff on my own, but I'll likely end up riding like a dressage rider in the wrong saddle without having more guidance, so I thought that if I was going to really be serious and learn about this area, it'd be best to find a trainer who can help along the way.
Hows the weather up there?
Are you in this thread http://www.horseforum.com/horse-talk...adians-256666/ you will get some locals helping out maybe.
:wink: Shhhh don't tell anyone but I have often heard it said that you can tell a person who started in English and has converted, we have nice seats.
hello from a fellow Edmontonian!
i think your dressage background will really help you in the western world. you ride with a longer stirrup western than you do english, and previously learning to stretch your leg down and have your leg underneath you will be of big benefit.
other than looking and feeling a bit more relaxed, i honestly don't see much difference between english and western riding. i do both, have taken lessons in both, and to me the only big difference to me is the type of saddle you sit in, lol.
having said that, i've never worked cattle though. but i think having a strong seat, strong core muscles, and a strong leg (all aspects of a good dressage rider) are the most necessary parts to being able to stick a horse while he is cutting a cow from the herd or chasing after a stray steer.
i'd say get yourself out on the trail in a western saddle for a couple hours and you'll get the feeling of it by the time you are heading back to the barn :)
or i might suggest taking a few lessons at a good western barn in the area. i'd try calling Dukes Ranch on 50th street just south of the city. they do western lessons there. take what you learn and transfer it back to you and your horse. may cost less than having a trainer come out?
One thing EHG missed mentioning is the difference in the contact with the mouth and the reins. Generally speaking you ride on a very loose rein (there's no "on the bit"), and neck rein, but you still use your seat as you do in english.
I recommend this book:
You might want to read some of the articles on this website about western saddles & fit:
False "saddle fit rules" regarding the shoulder blades
There is no reason to switch to a western saddle & western saddle tree if one rides it 'English'. It can be done, but it will create an unbalanced saddle on the horse's back. Since the weight distribution system (the tree) is different, one's balance in the saddle should also change.
The norm in western riding is to drop the idea of 'contact' and headset. Ride with slack in the reins, and let the horse choose its head position. You can direct rein still if you wish, but the goal is to transition to using one hand. With a curb bit, moving your one hand up, back, left, right - without taking all the slack out of the reins - will communicate your goal to your horse...once trained.
As I've started riding in a western saddle this last month, after years of Australian or English saddles, I find it is more of a platform to do things from than a saddle to feel the horse. The impression I get is that I need to change my approach to balance in order to use the western saddle to its full advantage. One thing that surprised me is that my horse seems quite content with the extra weight and length of the western saddle. She turns around a pylon faster and with more freedom in her shoulders than when using the Australian-style saddle.
After a month or so of intermittent use (bad weather and other commitments), I find it to be very different than riding English, just in terms of balance. I had switched to a western approach with the reins a couple of years ago, but the change in saddle gives it a very different feel. I'm still not sure if I like it or not.
"I don't want to do any showing, I'm really interested in the more 'practical' skills (for lack of a better description) such as those that would be useful should I ever work on a cattle ranch, or anything like that."
IMO the 'traditional' draped rein and lack of contact is more in the show ring than out on the range working cattle or just riding western for pleasure, from what i have seen, read and experienced. when you are doing practical/pleasure work with your horse you may have varying degrees of contact with the bit as opposed to looking picture perfect in the show ring.
and not all western riders ride their horse in a curb, so how the reins are handled can vary.
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