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SarahRicoh 08-01-2010 11:14 AM

English going Western Riding...
Hey all,

Well I have got a 4 year old Thoroughbred X Welsh Section D Gelding called Rico who im currently breaking in.

Anyways, I am in the process of finding an english saddle to fit him as thats how Iv always ridden but after being on here and as most of you seem to be american I have seen lots about western riding and tack and I am very interested!

I was wondering wether people feel breaking in, in english tack is better than western tack or the other way round? Once broken im very tempted to get a western saddle and bridle and give it a try as I will mostly be hacking (trail) but I'd need an english saddle for jumping and competing.

Can anyone tell me how western tack is fitted as I read somewhere that seat size is different to english and the saddles dont have gullet widths. Could be very wrong? I'd also love to know where I could get western tack from that is relatively cheap but nice and quite lightweight- Im in the UK.

Do you reckon its easier 4 a youngster to learn in a lightweight english saddle or do you feel its better to learn in a western saddle then an english will feel like nothing.

ALso, whats the main differences between the two disciplines? EG. Neck reining, spins etc..


lilruffian 08-01-2010 12:43 PM

Well, the 2 are quite different as there is generally alot more contact involved with english riding.In an english saddle, the rider is positioned further up on the horse's shoulders than in a western saddle, where the rider is closer to the center of the back. There is no cavesson on a western bridle & alot less straps & buckles involved lol.
I like western saddles better as i do alot of long-hour riding (trails, mountains, etc) & they're alot more comfortable to be in over such a period of time. You can also carry more gear with you.
As for seat size, it is slightly different (about 2 inches. For ex: i ride a 14 inch western and a 16 inch english). Measuring is pretty much the same for both saddles. Western saddles do have gullet widths, you just have to be sure that the saddle sits evenly all across the horse's back and that it doesn't pop-up in the back. There are types of western saddles that are very light weight such as Wintec and Abetta.
As for breaking,i like western because there's alot more involved with western tack & more for the horse to get used to. Also, you're a bit more secure in a western because of the high cantle & horn. But this is all a matter of opinion. With a western cinch, you have more leverage when tightening the saddle than with buckles on an english girth. But english saddles are smaller, so if your horse is more nervous you could try with the english first.
The main difference between the 2, as said before is english has more contact. Alot of western horses are trained to respond with very little pressure (such as neck reining), which in the "old days" allowed the cowboys to sit back & relax but also work ropes & cattle with one hand while only needing their other to direct the horse.
The events are different as well, in that western events are more speed events/cattle events such as barrel racing, roping, steer wrestling, poles, etc... and the english is based more on form & performace (show jumping, dressage, cross-country, etc..). Reining is a western event that is sort of like english, in that it is based on the horse & rider's performaces combined. THe rider has to put the horse through lead changes, sliding stops & turns without showing that he's giving the horse any direction. The good ones do this without any bridle on & sometimes without any tack at all! (look up Stacy Westfall on ;))
I like cutting as well, which is a cattle event where the horse has to use his "cattle sense" alone to keep a certain calf cut off from the herd. It's one of very few horse events that is based on the horse's own natural talent & not necessarily the rider's.

SarahRicoh 08-01-2010 05:24 PM

I really like the idea of the less contact as Iv been looking at videos and stuff and the horses seem to respond to the slightest of pressure and they're very well trained.
I suppose its a different sort of training to english.
My horse isnt nervous of tack at all... In fact he's really good!
I never thought of it before really but more and more I like the idea.
Can anyone suggest the best saddle thats relatively cheap- english he needs a wide gullet and 17" seat.
I also LOVE the bridles when they have two seperate ears and they are very pretty. Anyone know where I can find these-again for a reasonable price as they'd look lovely and he is currently in the most basic of bridle just cheekpieces, browband and throatlash if you get me. No noseband :)

smrobs 08-01-2010 06:38 PM

I would imagine that if he needed a wide gullet in an english saddle, he would likely need a western saddle with a 'full quarter horse bar' tree (though I am not sure because I don't know how english saddles are sized). As for seat size you would likely need a 15" because western saddles generally go 2 inches down from and english saddle. I personally prefer breaking all my youngsters in a western saddle mainly because that is what I am used to and I feel it gives me much more security for those spookish or bucking moments. I am sorry but I really can't help much wth your search because I don't really know what all companies will ship to the UK, but I think that Abetta makes decent synthetic western saddles for pretty cheap.

As for the training, I have to agree that the biggest difference is the contact. I ride all my horses (and train all of them too) to ride on long, droopy reins like this

You can see that even though I am cueing her for a turn, I am not influencing the bit hardly at all (though I am some because she is still green).

lilruffian 08-01-2010 07:16 PM

Try Cordura and Leather Saddles, Western Horse, Discount Saddles, Youth Saddles, Pads
It puts prices in american, but there's an option to buy from other countries. The Abetta saddles are nice & light. They're also comfortable & tend to fit a wider range of horse. I like the barrel saddles, just because they have a better horse. These saddles come in synthetic & leather & a number of colors.

SarahRicoh 08-02-2010 04:12 AM

Thankyou :) Anything else you can tell me?

lilruffian 08-02-2010 11:47 AM

lilruffian 08-02-2010 12:25 PM

Most saddles dont come with a front or rear cinch/girth. On the first site they have some rear girths as well as other "saddle parts". They tend to come in handy but alot of people go without them. They simply hold the back of the saddle in place so that it doesn't flip up if you're going down hills.
As for cinch's/girths, the neoprene ones are nice, but for long rides i prefer the cotton or "mohair" cinch's as they rub less than the neoprene. They come in a large variety just like the english, as well as sizes so you'll have to measure your horse.
Another "add-on" are breast collars. Again, you don't need one, but they come in handy every now and again. ;)

SarahRicoh 08-02-2010 03:14 PM

Arent western saddles girthed up differently to english saddles? Please can you explain it and maybe show me a picture? Im really interested in it now and weirdly enough, today I saw someone who breaks horses western and does clinics etc so Im gna look at his website now and see.
Im thinking maybe to ride western now and learn that way and then later on when he's more mature try english so I can get him jumping as I love jumping.

I'd love to try barrels etc but I dont think anywhere around here has shows western style? :(

SarahRicoh 08-02-2010 03:17 PM

whats the difference between round skirts and square skirts on a western saddle?

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