Introduction and questions on western/english riders. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 04-21-2015, 08:04 PM Thread Starter
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Post Introduction and questions on western/english riders.

Hello, I'd like to first tell you a little about myself, I'm in the UK and I'm 20 years old with very little experience with horses however I have dreamed of owning a vanner since I was a little girl, and have dreamed of working with or around horses.

I have studied and studied and watched endless clips and videos.. but I had never had the opportunity or knew where I could turn until now. I met someone who pointed me in all the right directions and it's finally happening, I will be starting voluntary/helper work at a stable this week! I'm so giddy it's unreal.

So, my questions regarding different riders..

From what I understand (or what I've read) Western riders are more for travelling by horse and more for leisurely activities with them. More comfortable clothes, aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, larger saddle and more laid-back than English riders.

Where as English seem to be stiff, competitive, more for sport activities. Not laid-back or relaxed, smaller saddle.

Western sounds more appealing to me, I want a horse as a companion and I'm not bothered about competition or shows really. I just want a friend I can bond with, play with, ride and have fun.

One thing I am interested in a little bit, is the hurdle jumping- do western riders do this? or do they need a different saddle?

Are there many Western riders in the UK/England?

Are Western rode horses trained differently to English rode examples?

and in such case, could I take a horse and train it to be rose Western?

Sorry for the daft questions, I'm a newbie! :>
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post #2 of 8 Old 04-21-2015, 08:19 PM
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I'm pretty sure everyone who works with horses aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, not just Western riders xD

And saying that English riders are stiff and Western riders are relaxed isn't exactly true, either.
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post #3 of 8 Old 04-21-2015, 08:49 PM
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Western riding.. do you just mean trail riding ? competitive or just for fun ?
English is not practical for riding in the mountains or on a ranch.
I am sure people do ride in English saddles in the mountains, but to me a western saddle is safer.
Western saddles are larger . There are many sports and competitive people in western .
Cutting, roping,steer wrestling, reining , barrel racing, competitive trail classes, extreme trail classes. Western can be much more difficult than English .
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post #4 of 8 Old 04-21-2015, 09:13 PM
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There differences you describe are mostly riders whose goal is to compete versus those that ride for fun. People who compete, whether English or western, tend to invest in nicer looking tack (that needs to be kept clean and free of scratches), need their horses to remain clean and well groomed, etc.

Those who ride for fun tend to wear whatever is comfortable for them, use whatever tack suits their needs (even if that means mixing some English and western components).

The key, as a new rider, is to find a barn that suits your goals. If you go to a show barn (one with trainers that focus on getting their students ready for showing), then you'll meet a lot more of the less relaxed folks. If there are a lot of people there who don't show, or just do small local shows, you have much better odds of finding the relaxed atmosphere you're describing. Not sure about the UK, but in my area those types of barns tend to have a good mix of both English and western riders.

If you want to do any jumping beyond the occasional log on the trail, English riding is much more suited to it. That saddle horn can really get in the way

ETA- there's no reason you can't ride an English-trained horse in a western saddle, but if you want to neck rein then the horse would need to be taught that.

The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will. - Buck Brannaman
"Nothing forced can ever be beautiful." - Xenophon
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post #5 of 8 Old 04-21-2015, 09:18 PM
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Those are stereotypes, not really true. You can be all uppity in both disciplines or casual as can be as well, up to the individual person. Here in North America, there is equal competitors in English & Western, I suspect in the UK, Western isn't as popular. If you are beginning, and you are thinking about doing some low level jumping, cross western off your list, that's not what that style of riding is designed for, you will have an easier time doing that English.
English & Western horses can be trained differently, depends on what you're going to be doing with them. Even Western horses can be trained differently, a western pleasure horse is not ridden like barrel racer, however it all starts with basic horsemanship, which all horses should be taught regardless of which tack you are putting on the horse.
If you are beginning and want to learn to ride, and being in the UK, if I were you, I would start with English, simply because there is more of it there.
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I am not here to promote anythingNo, that's not true, I am here to promote everything equestrian and everyone enjoying horses!
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post #6 of 8 Old 04-21-2015, 09:51 PM
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Those stereotypes aren't exactly true.

More often that not people ride either Western or English depending on simply where they learned.

I know I didn't have a "choice", I just went to the local riding school and they taught English. Western isn't that popular outside of the US/Canada. In some places it is gaining popularity but in places like England, Australia, New Zealand etc English riding still dominates.

People can be uppity in each discipline. There are people who are just as serious about western pleasure as others are dressage etc. It just depends on their personality. There are just as many English riders who just ride for pleasure as western, and just as many western riders are seriously into competing.

A difference however may be that when looking at western riding is that it is still used, to an extent, in farming and work. This has probably affected the stereotype, with western being seen as more utilitarian and perhaps practical.

However English riders still get their hands dirty, and they still just go on trail rides. They still relax and muck about. They go on long treks if they want, endurance riders... really there is no limit to either discipline.

There are more similarities between the two, and you can draw parallels between disciplines, western pleasure is like english showing, reining is like dressage (and there is western dressage). The only differences really are that English has jumping sports, and western has cattle sports.

Western doesn't really have jumping, it is possible to jump occasionally in a western saddle, however not ideal for horse or rider. There are jumping saddles made specifically for that purpose, and they are a form of English saddles. In addition, the way jumping horses are ridden is English.

Neither are harder or easier than the other. They both require good horsemanship, balance, body control etc. The top of any disciplines requires a lot of training.

Saddle size...they're not as different as you think. The Western saddle is larger an heavier, with swinging fenders and a horn. They tend to fit QH types best, with a little variation although not quite as much as English. Its slightly harder to do rising trot in a western saddle however otherwise they're fairly similar. English saddles can put your leg underneath you more. Bits are different, English riders use direct reining, which involves direct pressure on the mouth, staying in contact most times, western uses in direct pressure via neck reining. However a trained horse of either discipline should be able to ride with both reining styles.

Some people say western saddles are more secure... perhaps they are a little. I don't think it's a lot though. You may be less likely to fall, but they are harder to get out of in a tricky situation,and you can injure yourself on the horn. All in all I think they're about the same. The best way to minimise risk is to have good lessons and ride a well trained horse. I know I feel safer and more secure in a dressage saddle than a western.

As far as training an English horse to be western. It depends I guess. You can put a western saddle and bridle on an english horse and there isn't a huge difference, or vice versa, both can still be ridden. However training for specific disciplines is more complex.

If you live in the UK I'd ride English. I live in Australia and I started riding western a couple years ago. There were no local instructors or tack shops. It was hard and expensive to get western tack. It's just so much easier to ride the style that is common in your area. And you can always switch later.

Don't worry too much about where you are going to end up. Take lessons somewhere practical for you, you'll learn a lot either discipline. Once you've got established skills then look at specialising.
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post #7 of 8 Old 04-22-2015, 09:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxface View Post
I want a horse as a companion and I'm not bothered about competition or shows really. I just want a friend I can bond with, play with, ride and have fun.

:>
I think your volunteer work is a great way to get some hands on experience, and the next thing you need is to take riding lessons. I would not be concerned if it was English or Western instruction although I would say it will be much easier to find an English barn in the UK. Many of us have started in one style and switched or do both. Once you learn to ride you can really ride any way you want. You can trail ride with an English saddle and wear blue jeans and a T-shirt or you can put a western saddle on an English trained horse.
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post #8 of 8 Old 04-24-2015, 04:51 PM
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I agree with many of the posts before me. One discipline is easier than the other, it is all on your personal interests. I was raised riding working ranch horses, roping, pushing cattle and various competition events. I tried out English a couple of years ago and man it kicked my butt! Used totally different muscles than normal, my buckaroo boots didn't fit in the stirrups so I had to wear short shafts, had nice bruises from those thin little leathers. In the UK I can't imagine many western riders exist, but I do know there are mounted shooters popping up in Europe.

See what interests you the most right now and focus on that, then broaden your horizons later.
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