I have ridden English all my life and have always had an interest in riding western. Now I have become very interested and I was wondering besides taking horse lessons what are some things I need to do. What are some of the biggest differences in the two riding types. What kind of western saddle should I get? What is the best bit to start in? I have an appendix horse and I started working a little bit with necking reining on him. I think I know most of the basics.
I think my horse and I are both board of the english riding scene because I feel like I have to knit pick his every move. I have noticed western riders are more relaxed ( some of them) and thought maybe he would relax a little. Give me any advice you have.
When I switched I honestly did not find many differences between the two.
Honestly before investing in any tack I would get plenty of lessons before hand and make sure its something you are going to like. I believe the saying "you get what you pay for" and the only saddles I will use are the Billy Cook Sulphur OK saddles (There are knock off Billy Cook's from Greenville TX stay away from those). The genuine Billy Cook's you will pay more upfront but I haven't had saddle fit problems, they last forever and are quite comfortable. This is my personal preference, there are other brands out there that people like but the most important thing is you find someone experienced to help you properly fit that saddle to your horse. I would go for a training or trail saddle if you are in it for pleasure/trails. If you wish to compete in a specific discpline that's another story.
Starting out once you've taken some lessons I would keep the horse in its original bit. I ride in a french link snaffle bit and do just fine (pleasure rider here) because this is what my horse likes and responds well in. I would have an experienced coach or trainer help you find another bit that your horse will go well in if you wish to show and do more then just pleasure.
That's my recommendaiton... start off with lots of lessons to make sure you like it before spending money on tack.
I find the main difference is the tack and the horse's way of going. As for tack, a simple trail saddle should be fine to start out. If you don't want to be lugging a heavy leather saddle around then synthetic is also a cheaper and lighter alternative - Wintec is a great brand, their saddles are very comfortable, western and English.
I would get lots of lessons on it before worrying about tack but here's my rough suggestions. A trainer should give you a more detailed suggestion.
Bits are a little more in depth. If you only plan on doing western for pleasure riding a simple snaffle is fine. If you plan on showing western such as WP, you'll eventually need to upgrade to a curb. If you are going to need a curb, you'll want to teach neck reining and self-carriage in the snaffle before going to a curb. For introducing a curb, I would suggest a short-shanked, unjointed, swivel shanked bit with the shanks swept back as well. The information thread on curbs and western bits in the Tack and Equipment subforum should provide you with plenty of information :) Posted via Mobile Device
I personally always reccomend barrel saddles to everyone starting out. My barrel saddle is a hereford and it's coming with me to the grave. I use it for trails, reining, barrel racing, equitation, ranch classes, cattle work...I have a show saddle with silver and lots of tooling for really big shows but I always warm up in my barrel saddle anyway.
You can generally find used barrel saddles relatively inexpensive on craigslist. I bought mine for $375 and I could not ask for a better saddle.
They also really help people learning to ride western because they sit you right and hold you in IMO. Not that you'll need help if you've ridden english.
This is my saddle. I love it so much it's to the point where if it doesn't fit a horse, it's time to find a new horse instead of a new saddle....