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Hi!

I'm super new to this place so I hope I'm doing this right... I've been a horse girl for pretty much my entire life, but only now am going to start taking riding lessons. However, I'm not sure if I should start with English or Western. I've heard many people say both and it's gotten really confusing. I'm very interested in both. Which one do you guys say would be best to start with? Thanks!
 

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To me, there are two ways to look at it.

Western saddle makes it easier to stay on. English saddle doesn't help you stay on as much.

If you start western, you will likely feel more secure. However, then trying to switch to english might feel a little sketchy. If you start with english and get used to it, switching to a western saddle would be easy.

Whichever of those things you prefer- ultimately it will not matter that much!

Have fun

Robyn
 

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What types of things are you looking forward to trying?

If you want the option of learning to jump, you'll want to learn English.

If you want to try gaming, you can actually do that in both disciplines, but it's way more common to have opportunities for it in Western shows.
 

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1. My thought is to start with how old you are, and how physically in condition you are.

From years of reading threads of new horse riders and/or owners, it has been my observation the older folks and/or those not in great physical condition tend to have the most riding accidents while learning to ride English --- on those tiny little saddles:)

Pretty soon, the rider has possibly become well acquainted with the ER team at their local hospital and learning to ride is becoming less and less fun.

For these types of individuals, learning to ride in a more secure western saddle would better suit them, if one is fortunate to have western riding training available to them.. It's a lot easier to learn balance by learning in a western saddle with your feet out of the stirrups, after a few initial lessons:)

2. The second mistake I see, is too many new riders are "legends in their own minds". --- the rider they really are (or are not) does not come close to matching the rider they mentally envision themselves as being, right out of the gate. This can also lead to discouragement and eventually losing interest in what is a fun, albeit expensive, hobby/sport:)
 
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1. My thought is to start with how old you are, and how physically in condition you are.

From years of reading threads of new horse riders and/or owners, it has been my observation the older folks and/or those not in great physical condition tend to have the most riding accidents while learning to ride English --- on those tiny little saddles:)

Pretty soon, the rider has possibly become well acquainted with the ER team at their local hospital and learning to ride is becoming less and less fun.

For these types of individuals, learning to ride in a more secure western saddle would better suit them, if one is fortunate to have western riding training available to them.. It's a lot easier to learn balance by learning in a western saddle with your feet out of the stirrups, after a few initial lessons:)

2. The second mistake I see, is too many new riders are "legends in their own minds". --- the rider they really are (or are not) does not come close to matching the rider they mentally envision themselves as being, right out of the gate. This can also lead to discouragement and eventually losing interest in what is a fun, albeit expensive, hobby/sport:)
I think those two mistakes might be correlated, and not committing (2) mitigates (1). I learned English as an adult, but I never pushed my instructors to let me do anything I fancied I should be doing. When I ultimately did, I was ready for it.
 

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To me, there are two ways to look at it.

Western saddle makes it easier to stay on. English saddle doesn't help you stay on as much.

If you start western, you will likely feel more secure. However, then trying to switch to english might feel a little sketchy. If you start with english and get used to it, switching to a western saddle would be easy.

Whichever of those things you prefer- ultimately it will not matter that much!

Have fun

Robyn
I actually found the opposite -- I learned western, and when I switched to English I found a huge relief in feeling so much more balanced and close to the horse. Part of this is my very short legs -- all the leather under my legs in a western saddle is very uncomfortable. Long legs helps any rider but especially a western one.
 

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I agree with what people have said above. If you really don't care, then to me, it boils down to:

1. Learning to ride in a Western saddle is easier. I know some people say it's not true, but I definitely found that it's a lot easier to stay in a Western saddle. Actually I have a hard time imagining how, except for a serious spook / bolt, anyone could come out of a Western saddle. So you could learn to ride in a Western saddle, get the feel for it and get your confidence up, then switch. If you think you might have low confidence, fear, or riding anxiety, this would be a good way to start. But, switching to that tiny English saddle is intimidating! It's like you're suddenly sitting on the horse with no seat belt on.

2. Learning to ride on an English saddle forces you, IMO, to develop a good seat, faster. If you want to switch from English to Western later, it's no big deal because a Western saddle is easier to ride. But it definitely feels more precarious, so if you are nervous it might not be the place to start.

I started in Western and switched to English. My green pony used to be full of antics (spooking, crow hopping, little rears) that I doubt that I could have stayed on, as a beginner, without that saddle. But I wanted to switch to English because, among other reasons, I thought I would have more contact with the horse and develop a better feel that way. In retrospect I think that was true, but at the time I didn't feel a lot of difference except that the English saddle was not holding me in!
 

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I started English at about age 5. When I hit a big pre teen growth spurt at about age 10 I had a hard time with balance and coordination so I switched to western which helped immensely. When I returned to English I had a solid core and a balanced seat that finally let me feel the horse and my riding improved by leaps and bounds. I continue to ride both.

If you don't have a strong preference and are interested in both, try both. At the early stages of learning, the basic fundamentals are the same.
 

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Imagine you are walking across a raging river on a rope. It is raining hard and you can barely see for blinking your eyes. You can only put one foot in front of another while the wind is blowing you about. You spend all your physical and mental energy just staying balanced. Now try doing that while holding an ipad and writing out an essay for school as your mum screams about you not loading the dishwasher at age 14. Yeah... riding can feel like that sometimes in my experience heh.


I notice on this forum there is a lot of agreement that Western is maybe more FORGIVING of the beginner. That it holds you in better so you can better focus on other things? However as an English rider from England who has never sat my butt in a Western saddle I actually have fears of when I do:


The Horn. I got issues from most concerning to least:
- ripping off body parts while dismounting both voluntarily and involuntarily
- impaling myself on it
- what if I WANT to bail... nevermind keeping me in!

- rising trot, half seat, two point... jumping... won't it just get in the way?
- being unable to smother my horse in a full on neck hug without performing the heimlich maneuver on myself

- dependency. what if I get addicted to having a horn to hang onto or even hang my belongings on?!?!?


The Girth.

- being unable to do it up while mounted and alone, without a single mounting block, bench or tree (hard not to find one tbh where I am but still!)





HOWEVER I cannot also not see myself trying any barrel racing in an English saddle. Or roping a cow (bye bye arm!). Or going for a mental gallop before I've even established a decent canter - I might consider doing it in a Western saddle if the rumours of it's velcro-like properties are true!


Anyway. I think you should try both OP. You will be a better rider for it definitely. When you finally know can you come back and give us your input? ;)
 

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However as an English rider from England who has never sat my butt in a Western saddle I actually have fears of when I do:

- rising trot, half seat, two point... jumping... won't it just get in the way?
- dependency. what if I get addicted to having a horn to hang onto or even hang my belongings on?!?!?
Rising trot, half seat, and two point can all be done in a Western saddle. Jumping over things like logs is also possible (I know from experience) -- you don't even have to get into jump seat, just sit there. Bigger jumps, definitely not possible.

Dependency. Don't worry, your instructor will yell at you to stop holding on to the horn. I know that from experience also, LOL.

I went on a trail ride with a woman from England who had never been in a Western saddle, and she HATED it! She said it was too stiff and she had no range of motion in it. She didn't like the "held in" feeling at all. FWIW.
 
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