Western Or English? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 20 Old 11-08-2015, 05:51 PM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
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I re-started with horses after a decades-long hiatus and struggled with this question myself. I had ridden western and then hunt seat as a teen.

All I wanted to do was trail riding, so that gave me pretty much every single possible choice.

In the end, I got a dressage style trail saddle. Firstly because when I returned to Western I felt very awkward, like I was pinned in the wrong position all the time. I tried a number of very nice saddles, too. I was a lot more comfortable in a dressage saddle, but on my green horse I felt a little insecure. So I got a buffalo leather saddle (grabbier), with a moderately deep seat, and it feels lovely! For me the perfect balance of comfort, security, and flexibility.

Secondly, since I'm short and lack upper body strength, it was also very hard for me to saddle my horse with a normal western saddle. This one I can actually get on my horse!

Unless you're punching cattle or jumping fences, I think the right saddle is the one that makes you happy.
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post #12 of 20 Old 11-08-2015, 06:30 PM
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I grew up riding Western. The first discipline I learned at age 4. Did it for many, many years until I decided in my early teens to take on English because I was curious about jumping. Turns out I love jumping more than anything in the world, and I'm still doing it to this day.

I always loved Western & I always will, but I haven't ridden Western in a long time. There are advantages and disadvantages to each discipline. If it wasn't for jumping, who knows if I would continue to ride English...I'd probably be a little more open to going back, but at this point in time, it's not what I'm working on.

Western is a more "relaxed" discipline. Longer stirrups, MUCH longer reins, less "tightness" in the muscles. But there are so many benefits. It teaches you how to have a great seat and loosen up your core and hip flexors to absorb a bouncy trot and make it look effortless.

In English, you can absorb a trot through posting, which I actually used to do in a Western saddle to absorb bouncy trots before I ever even sat my butt in an English saddle. It just felt "right" to me, even though I knew it wasn't correct to the discipline! Anyways, posting is a great way to pretty much take on any trot you come across. Bouncy horse? No worries, you won't be forced to sit through it.

Then there's the freedom and adrenalin in Western of barrel racing, pole bending...oh man, how much fun that is! The adrenalin rush is like no other. Just pure fun. No worries about equitation. Just speed and enjoyment, quality time with your trusty steed. I miss it a lot some days.

And then jumping...a feeling you could never explain to a non-equestrian. What is it that keeps us coming back for more? The excitement to be airborne over and over again, even if just for a split second? The feeling of the "3, 2, 1" rhythm that eventually sends you soaring on the back of a 1200 pound beast? The adrenalin and excitement of turning on a dime and immediately eyeing your next obstacle ahead? The feeling of satisfaction you get when you successfully finish an intense course?

I could go on and on for hours...Western and English, they are two different worlds. 100%. I'm lucky to have experienced both in my lifetime. I know what each discipline feels like, and they are nothing like one other...which is what I think makes them so great.
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post #13 of 20 Old 11-08-2015, 08:18 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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I like both. I do about 90% western now. Saddle-wise: I've got a western saddle I like and my horses are content with it:

But I've got to admit...there may be a dressage saddle in my future, if I can find one that doesn't have whopping knee rolls.

Reins: I suspect I will always be western in my approach to using reins. This is about as tight as I want to ride:

But mix & match has always worked for me as well, and my horses don't seem to mind:

I should have used a one-ear headstall on her that day, just to make it complete. And no, I don't jump, although I do like jump saddles.
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post #14 of 20 Old 11-09-2015, 04:59 PM
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Location: NE Florida
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I ride both English and western. I started out western and did trails and barrels. My issue was that I could never find a western saddle that was comfortable for me to ride in for more than an hour, and I felt like I couldn't feel the horse through the saddle.
I switched to an English saddle and started taking hunter lessons, moved on to jumpers and am now into eventing. I will say the English saddles have taught me to balance more and to be more in-tune with the horses.
I can also say I've done just about everything you can do in a western saddle in an English saddle as well, you just need to have a seat like Velcro for some of the faster maneuvers is all and you can't tie a calf off to an English saddle, but that's about it really.

But all in all, it's up to you. I suggest trying different saddles and disciplines and seeing what fits you best.
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post #15 of 20 Old 11-10-2015, 03:42 PM
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its a good thing i read the comments, i was going to say that there is no better way to ride. but anyway, im english all the way! i started out more western (pony rides when i was little, and then trail rides as i was older) when i was 13 i started taking actual lessons and i was given the option because the trainer taught both ways. i said english, mainly because the horse i would be riding was small and i didnt have too much experience with either, but i just knew i was never completely comfortable in a western saddle. that was five years ago, and im still just so uncomfortable in a western saddle. i dont know what it is, i even bought a western saddle a little over a year ago and was going on a bunch of trail rides and riding in the ring with the western saddle, while continuing my english riding and lessons. and i just never really enjoyed it or felt too comfortable with it. i just love the english saddle so much more..whether its while flatting, jumping (i do hunters), or going on the occasional trial ride. i just really like how i feel a little more connected with the horse in an english saddle. in a western saddle, i just felt as though i couldnt feel the horse thoroughly or something.
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post #16 of 20 Old 11-10-2015, 09:38 PM
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I started out riding hunt seat then became interested in Western now I am comfortable with both. It really depends on the horse and what I am doing. I might trail ride in English tack but tend to have longer stirrups and ride with one hand.
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post #17 of 20 Old 11-14-2015, 01:58 PM
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Canada
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From other posts, it's clear you are thinking about (hoping for!) lessons and may be wondering which discipline to start with. Let me reassure you: at this point, it doesn't matter. If your parents let you take lessons, find a good barn and ride whatever horses and saddles/disciplines that barn specializes in. You will not likely have a choice in the matter. My daughter started English at age 6, then switched to Western, then back to English, did a Western week-long camp last summer... in other words, you will have plenty of time to decide which you prefer. My daughter is definitely an English rider now (4 years later) because she wants to jump, but is just as happy to sit in a Western saddle for trail riding or barrel racing. Until you actually are in a position to buy your own horse and saddle, it doesn't really matter. What matters is getting yourself in a saddle, be it English or Western!
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post #18 of 20 Old 11-14-2015, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Acadianartist View Post
What matters is getting yourself in a saddle, be it English or Western!
This many times over
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post #19 of 20 Old 11-18-2015, 03:05 PM
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Personally, I prefer English. I now ride Western because I barrel race more often, but I feel English give you the basic you need to become a better rider. I ride with many riders who have only rode Western and they can't stick in the saddle to save their lives! Sure they can "ride" but they don't know how to use their legs rather than holding on to their horn, gripping with their knees, or just plopping down into the saddle and hoping for the best. Now don't think I mean this is all Western riders, but a good chunk don't know how! And the same goes for English! A lot of them don't know the proper techniques either. So really, it's what ever you're comfortable in, but I prefer English.
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post #20 of 20 Old 11-18-2015, 04:10 PM
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I started with a western saddle and a pony. I later took English lessons from saddleseat riders, and decided I liked saddleseat. I never, ever, wanted to jump. I did some real low cavaletti but truly had no interested in h/j.

I've had a lot of problems with western saddles. They are almost all chair-seated, and after riding more of a balanced seat English for years, I can't tolerate ANY saddle forcing me into a chair seat.

I bought an old roughout ranch saddle from the '50s, with round skirts. It puts the rider in more of a classical balanced seat position. If I hadn't found it, I would be looking at modern roughout training saddles with butterfly skirts and with stirrups hung a little farther back so that my legs drop straight down. I sat on a Billy Royal training saddle at a tack shop, and I was amazed at how well I could get my legs wrapped around it, and how natural it felt, not forcing me into some way that I didn't want to sit.

You could still take lessons from some English instructor, but start on a western saddle. There are lots of Arabian riders who show in a saddleseat cutback but they have a western saddle for trails and exercise rides. If you want to learn how to ride, I'd stay away from any trainer or instructor who specializes in modern western pleasure. Those horses hardly move, and even a person who can't ride can ride those deadbeats. If you have a Fresian, you need to learn how to actually ride a big-moving horse that has momentum.
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