Why's there so much difference?
I haven't ridden my mare much at all lately... she's been being ridden by 9 year old, 12 year old, 15 year old, and 16 year old boys... and since I haven't been riding my mare much (at all) lately, I haven't been riding western either, as my saddle no longer fits my three year old gelding so he's been riding only in an english saddle.
I'm a western rider by nature, and when I first started riding in the english saddle, I couldn't balance in it for the life of me and almost fell off so many times... over time, though I've gotten my balance and am now walking, trotting, cantering, hand galloping, and galloping in the english saddle without having to grab my boys mane and have been trail riding in the mountains and across some pretty dangerous trails and I can pop over small logs and ditches we come across fairly easily without losing my balance most of the time.
Anyway, a few days ago some friends and I were riding... I was on my gelding, riding english... my friend was on his mare, riding western, and his little brother was on my mare, riding western. They wanted to stop and take a break, so I decided to hop on my mare while they were breaking and ride a little bit. My girl was hyper because we'd been doing some trotting and she wanted to run, so I let her go and we ran. We got into a gallop and were coming to a place where the trail either goes straight or you can turn at a forty-five degree angle... I asked my girl to turn, not expecting her to, but she surprised me and did so... my mare turns extremely sharp... she 'cuts' when she turns... normally I'd have to grab the saddlehorn when she turns like that, but this time I didn't even feel off balance and didn't even think about grabbing the saddlehorn... and we took the turn at a gallop and then sped up into a flat out run up the trail for about a mile before slowing to a trot.
My mare was so responsive to me, and she normally isn't... she also normally throws a few bucks at a canter and gallop, but she didn't... it was like she was happy that I was riding her, so she went out of her way to respond to me perfectly... but what got me was the fact that I felt so balanced and secure... And I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't been riding my gelding so much english, I wouldn't be nowhere near as balanced as I was... The only thing I didn't like was that the stirrups felt a little long, even though their suited just for me.
Does riding english really help you balance that much, or am I imagining things?
I only rode western a few times, and every time I remember thinking how bulky the saddle felt under me. It didn't even feel like I was riding a horse. I think english saddles put you much more in contact with the horse's movements. It's a matter of staying with the motion or eating dirt. All the western people I trail ride with call my little english sadde a launching pad. I do fine in it, but always wonder how they'd do in it.
I guess I'm used toboth really well, western and english saddle, because I didn't feel much difference... well, aside from the obvious... lol. I put my friend on my gelding english, and he nearly came off when my boy went to a walk from a trot... said he was never riding in the saddle again, lol...
I first bought my english saddle a few years ago, but only in the past year have I really been riding in it. Now that I'm used to it, I love it!
I think English can force you to balance better yes. And, yes, when switching between the two, you may feel like your stirrups are longer than they should be!!! Lol! And they may well be, who knows!
i agree that english demands more of you balance wise... i feel that i can speak on this because i have two horses, 1 english and 1 western... i am an english rider by nature but have been dabbling in western/reining/working cow with Brodie. So i ride english 3-4 times a week and western 3-4 times a week. Yep i get a healthy dose of each discipline each week and i find if i don't ride english consistently i start to loose it and rely on the big ol western saddle to hold me there :D
So... you guys would agree that me riding so much in an english saddle has made my balance better, then? I'm still surprised by how easy it was to ride in my western saddle...
I think the English improves the riding over all. Look at it this way; riding english is like sitting on a stool...you have to balance yourself, lest you fall off. Riding western is like sitting in a sofa...you don't have to concentrate "too" much on balance. Lol!
I don't know. I have ridden western A LOT more than english in my life (although I do ride both) and it's my "native" way of riding... and I still have an incredibly balanced seat. It takes A LOT to get me off balance...
However, this may not have to do with enlish or western, my old trainer spent a lot of time with us students doing bareback and/or bridle-less on a lounge line stuff... so maybe that actually kicked in...?
Either way though I think you can learn to be a VERY balanced rider just riding western...
The thing with me, though, is that I never took lessons, I was 'self-taught' and didn't even know much about balance and all this other stuff until I got my computer and had an unlimited supply of horsey information. I mean, I had a little bit of natural balance, but I never started trying to really 'find my balance' until the last few years...
BaliDoll: spend a few months to a year in an english saddle only and then go back to a western saddle and you will have the feeling she is explaining :D
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