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"Nacho" is a 8 year old Morgan/quarter horse, who used to be a cutting horse before I bought him.
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I rode in an English saddle for the first time today, I loved it! My horse (8-year-old morgan/quarter horse and ex-cutting horse) responded very well too. He neck reins and is very responsive to leg pressure. I am fairly competent with western riding and loved my new experience in an English saddle! Both my horse and I are young, full of energy, and ready to learn new things! But.. where should we start? What supplies should we buy? How should I transition both himself and myself to this new form of riding? We live in an area where practically nobody rides English, and the expense of a good trainer is not something I can afford right now. Here's a picture of a bit very similar to his right now, in case that helps.

Yes, I know it's pretty strong, but I have very light hands and this is the type of bit he had when I bought him...
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(I will not be online very often, might take a few days to reply.)
 

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Currently leasing 2 horses: Callie 21 y/o QH mare and Jake (Callie’s son) 15 y/o grade gelding
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I rode in an English saddle for the first time today, I loved it! My horse (8-year-old morgan/quarter horse and ex-cutting horse) responded very well too. He neck reins and is very responsive to leg pressure. I am fairly competent with western riding and loved my new experience in an English saddle! Both my horse and I are young, full of energy, and ready to learn new things! But.. where should we start? What supplies should we buy? How should I transition both himself and myself to this new form of riding? We live in an area where practically nobody rides English, and the expense of a good trainer is not something I can afford right now. Here's a picture of a bit very similar to his right now, in case that helps.

Yes, I know it's pretty strong, but I have very light hands and this is the type of bit he had when I bought him...
View attachment 1133717
(I will not be online very often, might take a few days to reply.)
Welcome to the forum! I’m in a somewhat similar situation to you so I figured I would throw in my 2 cents. (I’ll apologize in advance for the essay 😂)

Unlike you I took English lessons for 7 years and only occasionally rode western but the horse I’m leasing now (Jake) was only ridden western. So first off I would recommend watching videos of others riding English. Ideally of course you could take lessons, but I definitely understand not being able to take on that expense. There are quite a few reputable trainers/riders that have videos on YouTube (some even have tutorials on things) and it will give you a better idea of how English riding works.

As far as supplies, for your horse you will need an English saddle (not sure if you borrowed one or if it was yours), girth, bridle and English saddle pad. I started Jake in a single jointed D ring snaffle and he had been ridden in a bit similar to the one you use. You can always use your western bridle if you want, there aren’t too many differences between bridles (western bridles generally don’t have nose bands in my experience whereas English bridles do) other than looks. I would recommend getting a different bit, it may help him understand that this is something new, and shanked bits are generally not used in English riding anyway. If you wanted to look the part, you would also need to buy a pair of breeches and tall boots or paddock boots and half chaps. Also a helmet if you don’t have one. But unless you wanted to show there is no real reason you couldn’t ride in whatever you are riding in now.

Now as far as transitioning your horse, I just started riding Jake English. Nothing crazy at first, just a lot of walking and circles to figure out the aids before we moved to trot and canter. The biggest difference for him will probably be the direct reining instead of neck reining so just be patient with him while he tries to figure out what you want.

I don’t have as much advice for transitioning you because I’m not too familiar with proper western riding. I do know that English stirrups are shorter (for flat work the rule of thumb is that your stirrup should hit right below your ankle bone) and you use both hands on the reins.

I hope this was helpful, and I’d be happy to try and answer any other questions you have. Happy riding!
 

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My horse knows both western and English (a bit more green) styles, but was ridden more western by her last owner and English by me. I don't have too much experience with western riding, but hope my observations are helpful:

- maybe a "short person in a jumping saddle" problem, but western boots can catch against the bottom of the saddle flaps, so recommend English footwear. I think stirrup sizing feels different too, as paddock boots fit closer to the foot

- if your horse knows neck reining, they may get confused with how the reins brush against their neck when riding with contact (so patience and teach them how you want them to respond)

- a small detail, but turning on the haunches/forehand has a different expectation... Pivot on one fixed leg (western) vs a few small adjustment steps in place are expected English

- "contact" and the horse accepting it can be a bit of a learning curve. I believe it's common for horses to be started with a snaffle in both disciplines, but as more refinement is attained they diverge in philosophy. Though IMHO neck reining is complimentary to "indirect" English reining.

And a few more thoughts, that I have riding English but don't know enough about western riding to make a fair comparison but:

- a well controlled gait has many "gears", to be able to ask for small changes of speed up/slow down (need them for the approach to a jump). I imagine there is a similar goal in most disciplines, but getting your approach/footfall to line up with an obstacle on the ground is emphasized

- likewise, being able to shift the horse to carry more of his weight on his haunches, "collection". Again, collection and self carriage are common goals but I think a generalization is that the reins play a bigger role in learning it in English riding (but a finished horse well ridden should not need the reins to carry himself)

- less usage of the head and neck... My observation is that English disciplines emphasize having alignment between head, neck, and shoulders, having the horse use his core and back for turning and manuvering, and avoid letting him use it to rebalance from side to side.

This is a very interesting topic to me, I look forward to reading other takes on the subject!
 

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Welcome to English riding! I'm so glad you enjoy it!

I would personally start off with a well fitting English saddle for both you and your horse (not all come with stirrup leathers & irons, so you will want to purchase those as well if yours doesn't), a square saddle pad (those are personally my favorite for schooling, and if you enjoy trail riding or like to carry anything on you, they have nice pocket pads that I love), a nice girth (leather is my personal preference, but many like synthetic fleece girths, which can be obtained fairly inexpensively new), a basic snaffle bridle (I would get a hunter bridle, as it will have a standard noseband and nice grippy laced reins) and I think I would start with a simple broken D-ring snaffle based off of the pic of your bit. You can get it in a sweet iron mouthpiece like that if you like as well.
 
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