Trail riding...English?

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Trail riding...English?

This is a discussion on Trail riding...English? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Horse english trail rides
  • Can you trail ride in english saddle

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    06-01-2011, 06:21 PM
Trail riding...English?

Okay, so I know in Europe, pretty much EVERYONE trail rides English. However, here in America (at least out West, where I live), just riding English period gets you funny looks half the time, much less trail riding English.

That being said, my Aires is going to be primarily a trail horse for now, but I hope to eventually do hunter and English pleasure with him (just local schooling shows, nothing fancy). It was suggested to me by the trainer who is going to be breaking him for me that I break him English to begin with and just trail ride English. She even has an old English saddle with a tree that she's pretty sure will fit him (he's a Percheron/spotted draft cross, but he's only 2yo right now) that she's willing to lend me until I can get my own saddle(s). I really like this idea, part of the reason being that I have a shoulder injury which limits my range of motion and the amount of weight I can lift, so if I rode with a Western saddle, I'd have to always have someone help me tack up my horse (he's 15.2hh now and will likely finish over 16hh...his sire was 16.3hh and his dam was a Percheron, so probably around the same) least until I get my shoulder fixed (slow going with stupid state-funded health care).

However, I was talking to one of my friends last night and she made a statement that threw me for a huge loop..."You know you can't trail ride in an English saddle, right? It will hurt him." I was like "Huh?! Who told you that?" Apparently it was one of our friends who runs a boarding stable and rides mostly English. According to this friend, riding them English on trails will "wreck [a horse's] back because the weight isn't evenly distributed in an English saddle." Again with the big "Huh?!" So, I googled. Most of the stuff I came up with said that riding trails English is just fine and actually a lot of people prefer it.

So, I'd like to get some personal opinions/experiences. I would ultimately prefer to ride trails in an Aussie saddle (they just tend to fit my body better), but until I can afford a good one, I'll take what I can get. If I do end up riding Western, the owner of the stable has a huge tack room full of saddles that he loans out to anyone who boards there, free of charge, so technically I don't have to get my own saddle yet either way I go.
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    06-01-2011, 06:26 PM
Green Broke
Oh my goodness! As long as the saddle you're riding in fits your horse, then it is ok to trail ride in. I've ridden English, Western and Aussie saddles and can't say which one I like better. Just whatever you like, have fun trail riding!
    06-01-2011, 06:33 PM
Originally Posted by gigem88    
Oh my goodness! As long as the saddle you're riding in fits your horse, then it is ok to trail ride in.
That's what I thought! Lol

I have only sat in an English saddle, not really ridden all that much, but I did like the feel of it. I'm okay with Western saddles, but I'm not a fan of the way they fit my seat (have ridden in probably a dozen different Western saddles...everything from a cheap, old, broke-down saddle to a nice, brand-new show saddle). The Aussie saddle seems to give me the best of both worlds, as it were: the security of the Western seat with the contact of the English.
    06-01-2011, 06:35 PM
Your friend has no idea what she's talking about.

Endurance horses are primarily ridden in English-rigged endurance saddles. I've never seen a a true endurance rider using a Western saddle.

Besides, English saddles overall tend to be lighter than Western, which makes them easier on the horse over long distances.

As far as weight distribution, as long as the saddle is rigged, fitted, and balanced properly it shouldn't 'wreck' a horse's back regardless of what type it is.

I've been trail riding and doing LDRs in English saddles for the last 20 years, and I've yet to ruin a horse.

If your friend has ruined a horse's back I'd say it's because she doesn't know how to properly fit a saddle, not that a particular type of saddle is bad for the horse.
    06-01-2011, 06:38 PM
I train & show primarily western & rarely get the occasion to ride english so I like to use my english saddle when I trail ride for a change of pace & should we come across downed logs it's much more fun to jump them without a horn to the gut! I take some ribbing from my friends, mainly because I still wear my wranglers & western boots with my english saddle, but I'm not out to make a fashion statement ;)

That it would "ruin" a horse's back is utter nonsense.
    06-01-2011, 06:42 PM
Thanks, Speed Racer and MHF. I was completely floored when my friend said that. I seriously didn't answer for almost a full five minutes because I was just staring at my phone like "What?! I don't even know what to say to that!" However, I've come to dismiss a lot of what my other friend told me after moving to this new stable and working with different people. Heck, she told me every single Aussie saddle I tried on the 8yo arab/saddlebred gelding I had didn't fit, when I know that at least two of them did, after talking with the OWNER of the Australian Stock Saddle Company. Why did she tell me they didn't fit? Because she knew nothing about Aussie saddles, so rather than admit that she didn't know, she just said they didn't fit.
    06-01-2011, 06:50 PM
It irritates me when people can't admit they're wrong and would rather make up some ridiculous blather instead of just simply saying, "I don't really know, since I don't do that."

Not knowing something is fine. Pretending you do and giving out ridiculous and moronic 'advice' is immature and annoying.
    06-01-2011, 06:53 PM

You go rock that english saddle on your trail rides and tell anyone who doesn't like it that they don't have to look. :)
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    06-01-2011, 06:56 PM
Originally Posted by Speed Racer    
It irritates me when people can't admit they're wrong and would rather make up some ridiculous blather instead of just simply saying, "I don't really know, since I don't do that."

Not knowing something is fine. Pretending you do and giving out ridiculous and moronic 'advice' is immature and annoying.
Welcome to life out at her stable (the immature and annoying part, at least). The very last straw for me was when I found out that they were talking crap behind my back about me after I helped her without pay or recompense for TWO YEARS. Sorry, that sort of thing just really upsets me.

ANYWAY, back to my original reason for this thread...I'm glad to hear that I was on the right track with thinking trail riding in an English saddle was perfectly fine.

MHF, I'll be one of those riding an English saddle in jeans and Ariats. I can't pull off breeches. And the owner of the stable (who is an old-school, dyed-in-the-wool cowboy) probably will make fun of me. He wants to break Aires in a "Tom Thumb" bit (looks to me like a snaffle with rollers) and then eventually get him into a hackamore (which I'm not entirely sure I'm comfortable with).
    06-01-2011, 06:59 PM
I trail ride english for couple years already. I have A/P saddle just for trail riding (fit horses well and I don't feel sorry to use it in water etc.). I've seen PLENTY of people using english tack on trails.

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