Lesson Guidance - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-20-2017, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Lesson Guidance

Hi! I'm hoping you folks can give me some good advice. I don't have any riding experience, but have been paying a friend of a friend to get me some exposure around horses to get comfortable (mostly grooming, feeding, cleaning stalls, asking questions). I'm feeling ready to take some riding classes, and through networking I got connected with a reputable barn and trainer who is willing to take me on. Through all my research, I've been really drawn to western riding, with aspirations to possibly do cow sorting and/or barrel racing some day. However, this particular trainer does English, specializing in jumping. When I met him, he told me I need to get a helmet, riding pants and new boots (while pointing to my cowboy boots I had on, normal leather Durango cowboy boots). The lady that hooked me up with him said it's best to start with English since it's harder and will give me a better seat, and I could always transition later. With that, I have a few questions:
1. Do you think it's true that starting English is the best option, even if my heart's set on western? Will doing so make the transition easier?
2. Do I really have to get new English style boots and pants, or can I use my normal boots and riding jeans? (Mostly the concern is the cost of these new items and overwhelming options that seem so foreign)
Thanks so much for your help!!
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-20-2017, 11:26 PM
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There is less to hold on to in an English saddle so you may develop your balance differently. I wouldn't say it's harder, but it's different.

Jeans will wear the leather on English saddles, so the trainer may be very strict about that. Some saddles are very soft, different than western saddles. You can scratch them up just by dismounting with a zipper jacket.

Cowboy boots may not fit in the stirrup irons.

English is very steeped in tradition, so beyond the practicalities of the equipment, you will find a lot of trainers are adamant the 'look' be followed. I've been to clinics that I wasn't allowed to have my hair in a neat pony tail, had to be in a bun at the base of my neck or under my helmet.
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post #3 of 11 Old 07-21-2017, 01:20 AM
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I think if you wish to learn Western riding, you should start there. Truly.
It's as simple as that.
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-21-2017, 01:30 AM
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I started western and never left it if you have your heart set on western start western IMO
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post #5 of 11 Old 07-21-2017, 11:36 AM
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I started out Western and rode that way for three years or so and then switched to English but I did still ride Western for trail until I discovered the various types of Endurance saddles which I found I liked more. :) I personally think I found better balance and became a better rider while riding English, particularly when it came to learning how to jump. I personally don't think you'd have a problem transitioning from English to Western.

If you are concerned about the look of jeans compared to English breeches, they do have denim breeches that still look like jeans but are softer so they won't scratch the saddles and are much more breathable and offer more maneuverability in the saddle.

You can find decently cheap boots and breeches at a lot of online retailers. I prefer Horseloverz to buy my cheapo items. Shipping takes about two weeks but the prices are low and the quality of the items is generally good. I wouldn't spend a TON of money if you are wanting to transition to Western later on.

If you can find a Western instructor, then go with the Western instructor because that's what you really want to do. But if this English instructor is the only one available then I would still take them up on the offer to take lessons until you can find a Western instructor. Riding is still the same at its core and you will still be learning the basics no matter what.

Good luck and have fun with your lessons! :)

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post #6 of 11 Old 07-21-2017, 12:54 PM
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I went on eBay and looked in FB tack sales group to find cheap stuff when I was starting out. Found a decent pair of used boots for $12 and I think my first breeches were around $28.

"Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better."
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post #7 of 11 Old 07-21-2017, 01:15 PM
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Riding English in jeans can be very painful because of the seams. Also, Western boots usually don't go all the way up your calf so the saddle might pinch.
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-21-2017, 01:51 PM
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I agree with the posters above who have said that if your heart is set on Western, then start there. While English would certainly also teach you the fundamentals, you might not get as much enjoyment out of it if you're only doing it as a precursor to what you really want to do (and that might dampen your enjoyment for riding in general, which would be a shame!). They are not so different that the lack of training in one would make you a poorer rider in the other. If the option is available to you, I'd say jump right into Western.

If not, though, the eventual transition would indeed not be a problem. I hope that you enjoy your lessons, whichever way you end up going!
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-22-2017, 05:01 AM
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I think it is thoughtless for an instructor to tell you to go and buy all the English riding kit when you are first starting out, expensive if you do not continue.

A helmet, I agree with but boots and breeches are not necessary to start with. Half chaps and the boots you have would be fine.

Having said this I agree that it you want to rode western, start that way.
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-24-2017, 09:55 AM
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My personal opinion is that if you are new to riding and unsure which direction you want to go start English and then try Western. In my experience it is easier to go English then Western rather than the other way around. You get a really good foundation if you have a good instructor. If you pretty much know the direction you want and are not going to ride the other style then go the direction you are interested in. Most riders pick a style (English or Western) and then may switch disciplines within that style but don't typically switch from one style to the other though there are exceptions and those that do both. Most though settle on one or the other. As for the equipment a helmet is a necessity. Some instructors have equipment you can borrow for the first few lessons so that you are not putting out a great expenditure before you know which direction you are going. You may want to see if there are any of those around. Working in the school system and seeing lice travel through a student body, I am picky about what goes on my head so my child had his own helmet to start lessons in but the instructor he had is set up for new riders. She had helmets available. With her, your first lessons taken can be in jeans or whatever you are comfortable riding in. Yes, jeans only can wear an English saddle but if the instructor is geared for beginners then I would expect they would have saddles that show some wear and tear from the amount of riders riding and wouldn't expect a full turn out the first few rides for a beginner. They would also have saddles of varying sizes to accommodate the riders. These are saddles that will get used and abused. The focus is on the saddle fitting the horse first and foremost. What I am saying is a few rides in jeans wouldn't make a difference to the equipment. Hopefully you would be taking from someone that expects you to learn from the bottom up. Catching, grooming, tacking and then riding as well as basic equipment care. Some go into stall upkeep and basic feeding principles and first aid. This is where I would want to be. You aren't going to be riding their competition horse in the most expensive, immaculately kept show saddle first time out and have the horse handed to you completely tacked where all you have to do is mount up. If you are then respect what they ask you to come equipped with. My stickler for those that I work with and same for most I know is no inside zippers on boots. That can really do some damage. Other than that be safe. Helmet, long pants and a sturdy, heeled boot. After the first few you should know if that is where you want to be then you can find decent equipment, reasonably priced and come dressed for the style you are riding.

If your heart is set on Western then find a Western instructor.
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