Does anyone ride English AND Western?

Jane&Ziggy

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I am rereading Jane Smiley's horse books for young people starting with Nobody's Horse. The young heroine, Abby (12 when the series starts) rides Western and also English, including show jumping.

I've only ridden Western once, when my English aids began to confuse a nice quarter horse I was riding on Dartmoor. The owner gave me a rapid crash course in Western aids so that I understood why he started trotting every time I leaned back to relieve my sore bum.

I imagine that riding both styles well is like speaking two languages, for both horse and rider. If you can and do, what is it like? Please tell!
 

ponylover88

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Jul 12, 2004
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No but I would love to give western a go. i always thought Gem would make a fab western pony, with her ability go be totally controlled from minimal seat and leg aids only (I cantered out hacking with no reins, then brought back to walk with arms still out at the side!) and her ability to do sliding stops...
 

Kite_Rider

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May 18, 2009
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I don't but would love to, actually I'd like to be able to ride English properly for a start but yeah I think it would be great to have a bi lingual pony. :D
I do remember when I took my non horsey OH for a western trail ride in Wales, he picked it up dead easy but I found it really hard and very confusing.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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I do, Jess did almost purely western until the end of 2013 and is now under english mostly, but I could slap western gear on her tomorrow and she'd do fine. Bo always did both, well after his first 2 years as I didnt want to confuse him as a baby.
Admitedly, none of the horses I did both with at the same time (not literally) were going to go out and win at high levels, they were always more tuned in to one or the other depending on my focus, getting a western horse to work into a contact for example is alien to them, they are used to virtually no contact and a weight change on the rein requires a reaction, jess is 18 months into focussing on english and she still finds constant contact very hard to deal with.
The aids for the most part are very similar, I dont understand why leaning back made the horse trot, perhaps Im picturing what you were doing wrong. I think the biggest difference is the 'loudness' of western aids, a western horse must react to a very small cue and is expected to look after itself once you have told it what you want it to do eg if I put Jess onto a 20m circle at a lope (slow canter) she would be expected to stay on that circle, at that speed, balanced and carrying herself until I give another instruction, vs english where we ride from the leg to the hand all the time so giving constant instruction, its not that western riders aren't riding the whole time, they are but it becomes very passive between asks.
We actually do a class at some shows where you do a ridden show in full western gear, then have 3 mins to leave the arena and re-enter in full english gear for an english show, its great fun if little bit manic in the change over but really shows which horse and rider combos are most adaptable :D
 

Jessey

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I haven't got the western portion of this class on camera
Here we are warming up before the class (mum was on picture duty and worrying about the changee over for some reason!)
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here is the change over happening, my sister is there ready with my english saddle, another friend whipping the western off and me in the background stripping!
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Shoe horning myself into a borrowed jacket, mum helping :D
11200817_10153345502337246_1995196280305220237_n.jpg
Last check
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and back in we go
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I couldn't breathe!
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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When OH learned to ride our RI started him Western as he was going to trail ride in the States. It had the added advantage of allowing him to hold the front of the saddle with his other hand. I have had a few Western lessons. But the one I had in the UK fro m a UK Western trainer was weird and not to my taste. Very different from Texas and Colorado. There seem to be massively variations within Western riding. Rashid doesn't ride like a rodeo man.
 

Jessey

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I learnt in Montana originally, found the show pen different to ranch horses, but thats the same in all diciplines I think.
 

tikkitti

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Hi, Nope only English for me although admire those who do/can, I do know a NH trainer in our area who also does western clinics and training, and to be honest I know I'd probably enjoy learning but I'm so set in my ways I don't know how easy I'd find it. x
 

Skib

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You have to think what the purpose is and the tradition. We always ride Western in the States - trail rides, a riding course or on a friends horse - because that is the way things are done over there. I dont think it is a major thing to switch from one to the other - it is more difficult perhaps to come from Western to English than the other way round but I spent one lesson persuading a Western teacher who took me on a solo hack/lesson and felt inferior for riding only Western, that she would find it really easy to transfer her skills and ride English. She was such a sensitive rider and rode with such feel and balance.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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This is very interesting! @Jessey I love your changeover class, what a hoot. Jess looks like the perfect Western horse, she just has that shape and way of carrying herself.

I see what you say about English trained horses always waiting for instruction, it makes English style riding sound fiddly!

Owner told me the QH went into jog because I shifted my weight back. That was how he had been taught. Walk when your rider is upright; if rider leans back slightly, go into jog. I tested it afterwards and it worked every time.
 
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Jessey

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Interesting, I guess the ones I have ridden go to jog when you open your pelvis, so by leaning back/rolling pelvis it might feel similar to them. Weight back & down is generally a que to stop/get weight over their hocks.

I once put an experienced rider on Bo, she got on in a typically English seat and he immediately popped into canter, when she then sat down he put in a hard stop which flung her up again and he popped back to canter, she thought he was being naughty until I explained he had done everything she had asked him to :)

English riders often find letting go of a western horse hard and western riders of find taking a contact hard :D There is an awesome you tube clip of a reiner and dressage rider comparing moves and swapping horses
 

joosie

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Oct 28, 2004
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I think Annie would be fab at Western. I ride her a bit like that already and think she'd probably prefer it to English!
 

No_Angel

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I ride both English and Western, but I don't really change my riding. My horses go off weight aids and I don't 'nag' at them both English and Western. I take up a little more contact when riding English but that's all.
 

KP nut

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Dec 22, 2008
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This is really interesting. I'm sure both can learn from both. Rashid doesn't like English riders to 'nag' - and I hate seeing vids of my riding when my legs are just constantly nag, nag, nag so I love the idea of being much more subtle and quiet.

What I don;t understand is the difference in contact. We are told riding into a contact makes the horse work correctly from behind. But surely Western horses are also using their bodies correctly and aren't hollow?
 

newforest

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Mar 15, 2008
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I probably have Western ish aids. If I tell mine to trot as Jessey says I don't expect to need to reask her until I say otherwise.
The same as lunging if I say trot we trot, I don't need to keep saying it and flicking the whip, she is trotting.

To me western is long and long but I could be wrong.
I have a light contact as I don't really get the whole contact thing.
Bareback we jog her trot is too powerful and bouncy.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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If you watch the video that Jessey posted of the two riders swapping you can see that the Western horse has its quarters pushing the energy through just as the English one does, but its neck position is much longer and lower. Its head position is just a spit forward of the vertical though.

I agree about not nagging and giving aids constantly.
 

newforest

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If a horse works from behind the front takes care of itself, but English riders-some fix on the head being on the vertical and hands that pull in the front. If you work your horse from behind the head will lower.
Long and low helps with this as does a loose rein? If you have a firm contact the head will ping up to avoid or tuck in I suppose?
 

Jessey

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They are trained to keep their head low whilst pushing from behind (initially you make lots of corrections but gradually you need to less and less) and as you put them there and leave alone they learn they are expected to maintain it, I think English horses look for the contact to confirm more. plus its a breed thing a lot of western horses are stock types, if you look at western arab classes for example they are higher set. Having said all that jess can still do a giraffe impression when the mood takes her but that more when shes looking for something in the distance.
The western horse should have their nose slightly forward of vertical for showing.
 
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