English or Western What is the Difference
 By Winniefield Park   •   8th Sep 2015   •   1,980 views   •   2 comments
English or Western What is the Difference

One of the first things you have to do when you decide to learn to ride is also decide whether you will learn English or Western riding. What is the difference? There are more similarities than differences, but one style may appeal more than the other.

The Tack
The most obvious difference is the tack used. The western saddle evolved around the needs of ranch hands working cattle. The saddle horn was used to secure a lariat when roping cattle or pulling loads a short distance, as would be needed to move something like firewood when out on round-ups. The saddle often has two girths, and is much wider and longer than an English saddle, and this helps it stay stable under the weight of a roped cattle beast. The latigos straps on the front and back were used to hold things like a bed roll, slicker and other necessities of cowboy life. And, the wide comfortable seat made a day in the saddle easier to endure.

English saddles evolved from saddles used by mounted military in Europe. There are several different types made for specific disciplines. Jumping saddles have exaggerated knee rolls and panels to accommodate the riderís leg position over the jumps. Dressage saddles have straight leg flaps to allow the more upright position of dressage riders. All-purpose saddles are made for riders who would like to do a bit of everything comfortably.

Generally, bridles differ a little. Western riders will neck rein and English riders direct rein. Riding with one hand, as western riders do, allows the rider to use the other to handle a rope, open a gate or do other tasks essential to working cattle from the saddle.

The Clothing
While it doesnít matter what you wear, as long as youíre safe and comfortable when youíre riding at home or in a lesson, it does matter if youíre in the show ring. Western riders traditionally have worn cowboy hats, but more riders are taking the safe route and wear helmets. Western boots, jeans or other trousers are traditional and tops vary depending on the exact discipline youíre competing in. Some classes call for a lot of bling, others will require you to be more subdued.

English riders traditionally wear a habit: helmet, jodhpurs, tall boots, gloves, white shirt and tie. Most show ring riders wear some variation of this still. Some coats may be longer or shorter, may be subdued colors or black, and shirts light colored, with a rat-catcher, or ascot type collars. If youíre headed for the show ring, youíll need to learn what is appropriate in the classes youíll be competing.

The Type of Horse
Many of us have all-rounders that are suitable for anything. But, there is a type of horse suitable for almost every specific discipline. Generally, English horses are taller, suitable for clearing jumps or displaying floating gaits in dressage. Western horses tend to be shorter, stockier making them more suitable for cattle work.

Which Should You Learn?
The basics of each are the same. And, thereís no reason not to learn both. Pick what appeals to you. No matter what you choose, it will take a long time to develop your riding skills. No matter what type of riding you do, it will be worth every minute.
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
I would just like to point out that we (western riders) do more than just work cattle.
  Sep 8, 2015  •  2,084 views
The gaits are different between English and western riding.

Walk > Trot > Canter > Gallop

Walk > Jog > Lope > Gallop

The trot (normal; not working, collected, etc...) is an energetic, two-beat gait that is approximately 8 miles per hour. It has a moment of suspension (bounce).

The jog is a slow, relaxed trot with less bounce than in normal trot.

The canter (normal; not extended, collected, etc...) is a controlled, forward-moving, three-beat gait that is approximately 10-17 miles-per-hour. There is a moment of suspension.

The lope is a slow, relaxed canter with less collection than a collected canter, but at about the same speed or slower (8-10 miles-per-hour). The suspension is less than the English canter.
  Nov 23, 2015  •  1,779 views
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