English vs. western

Rob26

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They had a feature in H&H this week about riding holidays and there was one on cattle hurding which looked very appealing!

Perhaps i'm a closet cowboy?
 

Rob26

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Cochise said:
Brokeback Mountain opens here soon, and is open in the UK isn't it? I'm guessing that is what you are alluding to Rob?;)
ha ha ha I didn't see that one coming! I walked right into that didin't I? using closet and cowboy in the same sentence :D
 

Cochise

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Jun 3, 2002
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I edited my post too in case you got offended, but obviously not! You have to be sharp around me, believe me!
But seriously, I do recommend having a go at western. I'm dabbling in a little side saddle soon too. :)
 
I started out learning the basics in western, but found many reasons to switch to english: First off, the saddles were terribly uncomfortable- a quality and comfortable western saddle is more expensive than an english one. Secondly, the saddles are far too heavy for me- I'm very small, and have mechanical issues in my hands which make it nearly impossible for me to tack up my horses with western saddles- for the most part, the better quality the saddle, the heavier, so my only option would be a less than desireable synthetic.

Thirdly... I find a forward position far more comfortable than a traditional western seat- sitting a trot and canter take a lot more energy than posting or "jockey seating" a trot or riding the canter in the forward seat. Since I will sometimes ride multiple horses in an afternoon, (and usually less than well-mannered ones, at that!), I find it exhausting!

The western saddles I was raised with are just plain uncomfortable. Mind you, I was raised at a massive but not necessarily rich lesson barn, and a summer camp owning fourty horses- neither could afford a nice, comfortable saddle for all of the horses. It was just not possible. And if you've ever ridden in a low-end western, you know that it's like sitting on a rock. A rock that rubs and chaffes, at that.

I broke my tailbone a couple summers back after falling down a flight of stairs, and the combination of where a poorly made western saddle hits your tailbone and sitting every gait makes it terribly uncomfortable- the last segment or two of my spine are now crooked and tilted in towards my body, and my weight actually ends up on the third segment, which isn't designed for constant pressure like that.

I, too, have trouble finding a quality western trainer where I live. When I first began riding, I was terribly in love with the idea of barrel racing, but was crushed to discover that barrel horses, barrel competitions, and barrel trainers do not exist in the suburbs of Chicago. The very very few trainers available in western sports were just too high level and expensive for me to work with.

But, you know the ironic part? After all these years of knocking western saddles and riders... I just got a job training gaited trail horses- and guess how we ride? That's right. Western. :D

The trainer I work for is quite particular about his tack, which means every saddle is very high quality (most are about a hundred years old- old saddles were built extremely well and last forever, and they're far more comfortable than most saddles you can buy new these days), and the fact that all of my horses are gaited means that there's no bouncing, and if I'm not trotting or cantering, I don't need to use as much energy in moving with the horse at a trot or canter! The cherry on the top? Since my boss is so particular about his tack, he insists on tacking up my horses- I don't even have to touch my heavy saddles until I'm mounting! This works out quite nicely :)

I agree with LMS- I think english riding demands more preciseness from the riders- western, I've found, gives more responsibility to the horse and tack. While I'm much happier in western gear these days (while I never felt insecure in my english tack, since switching to western, I've ridden through some horribly raunchy spooks, temper tantrums, rears, and bucks- I NEVER would've stayed on in my close contact!), I will never ever regret my english training- they really drill proper positioning and aids into your mind, and now it's all second nature. I can't even ride a chair seat if I tried!

Both training styles have unique and beneficial attributes- I think that every rider should spend at least six months seriously training in each. Trainers from different disciplines have different perspectives on horse training and behavior, and they focus on different aspects of riding- there's always something to gain by trying something new.
 

denise42

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I only ride western at the moment..will try dressage at some point in my riding life..but not for awhile yet..have so much more to learn with this western riding..
Hear ! Hear ! on the cleaning of a western saddle being a pain in the butt..I have a Dale Chavez basket weave patten I have used every thing from shoe brushes to tooth brushes on it and still have troble keeping it looking nice.
:rolleyes:
 

Kalypso

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I started western because that was all I'd ever ridden. I have a VERY comfy synthetic western saddle, and I love it. Very light, too. When I started lessons at my college three years ago, my instructor let us ride in whatever saddle we wanted, but she basically taught us english equitation.

Funny enough, I SWORE up and down that I would NEVER ride English...I saw it as something the rich 'stuck up' people did (that was the only experience with western riders I'd ever had as yet :eek: ) and I would never wear those silly jods and tall boots and helmets, etc...

Then I found I was going to Ireland for a year and knew if I wanted to ride I would have to learn how to ride English, and besides I thought jumping looked interesting. So I started riding English and learning to jump...and now I hardly ever touch my western saddle anymore and I MUCH prefer English. I find English to be much more fun, not as slow, and I LOVE jumping. Besides, I like the saddles better :)
 

LMS

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de_Stille_een said:
The western saddles I was raised with are just plain uncomfortable. And if you've ever ridden in a low-end western, you know that it's like sitting on a rock. A rock that rubs and chaffes, at that.

The trainer I work for is quite particular about his tack, which means every saddle is very high quality (most are about a hundred years old- old saddles were built extremely well and last forever, and they're far more comfortable than most saddles you can buy new these days)
Too true! When I sold my western gear & was cohearsed (by the tack store staff) into selling my old saddles & keeping my new saddle because "it was so much lighter & new"!

Big mistake! Now that I know more about tack, I'm kicking myself for having listened to the bad advice. So, for the past 7yrs I've had a lovely ornement in the corner of my home office gathering dust because it's junk! I've only ridden in it once & hate it!

I heard from a friend that my saddles had sold within 2 weeks and at triple the price I was given by the tack store.:mad:
 

~*sugarlump*~

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I ride english because there are virtually no western riding schools (or anywhere that teaches western) near me
and also, i just think it's more common near me, so there is more to do
 
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Im not sure what western saddles you were riding in! My saddle(barrel) is much more comfortable than my english saddle. The better quality saddle it is the more comfortable. (barrel saddles at least) My barrel saddle weighs 25 lbs. and my english 17 lbs. I ride in both just to swtich things up:) Although Im defintly a western girl.
 

western

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I ride western all the time on my horse basically because he was trained western. At the time I bought him I didnt know much about riding a horse so western I think is alot eaiser to start out western than english. I would like to switch off into english someday because I always wanted to learn english riding. I rode english once and I loved it. It felt so much differnt than western.
 

Kate F.

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I've done both, and while I normally ride english, I've "borrowed" a lot of western ideas in my english riding. I enjoy "proper" western too - but can't afford 2 sets of tack for my horses so do western type exercises with an english saddle, sometimes! It has to be this way round as I'm a bit of a jumping addict and there's no way I'm going to jump with a western saddle! ;)

"Trail" exercises are excellent for control, concentration and precision regardless of the tack, and I think a lot of english riders would learn a lot from trying some western exercises, even if they don't want to change the tack.

The only drawback I've heard with western is the attitude from some people starting to ride who say "I don't need lessons, I'm going to ride western" :eek: :eek: :eek: That's an image that can give western a bad name - then you hear the english riders in turn saying "Western is for people who can't be bothered to learn to ride" and so it goes on! If you look at proper western, it's just as demanding and exacting as english - and in many ways more so - you need all the same responsiveness, relaxation, lightness, outline and concentration - but with one hand and loose reins!

At the end of the day, riding is about communication between horse and rider, and that is completely independent of the shape and style of the tack! I think good english and good western are much closer than most people imagine!
 

Dolce

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I Loooooooooooovvvvvveeeeeee western. I started English, I am at a intermediare level. I just started western to work more on my seat, and weight aids. It is great.

I have also fell in love with the Quarter horses. They are extraordinary!

The western saddle helps me to sirt deeper, and I feel more secure. However it is a pain to carry, it is very hard, I use a seatbone saver.

I like English for jumping ;)
 

hackedoff

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I love western. I'm known as the yard Cowgirl! I've done the holidays and taken lessons and bit by bit I'm introducing my cob to the style, still saving up for a Bob Marshall saddle so at the moment I'm a bit 'Wenglish' in a Western bridle with Indian Bosal and SBS saddle :eek:
The most fun I've EVER had on a horse was Team Penning in Colorado last summer- strange horse, no hat, no body protector, chasing down cows with pointy horns-yeeha.
 

atillathefun

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When I was younger I rode both - competed in English Shows and Show jumping but also in Rodeos.
The key difference for me is (and no offence intended here as I know all NR's are nice :) ) at a Western show everyone is so much more chilled out and relaxed, they just want to just have a good time with their horses but at an English show its handbags at dawn! alot of people are quite bitchy and look down their noses at others - its like if they dont win they get the hump!!.

I now mainly ride English but thats because I enjoy dressage. I do find riding in a Western Saddle makes you feel much more secure, I had an QH who could buck for Britain and I sat out many a fly bucks - not sure I would have stayed on in an English Saddle though :D

Edited to say - not all Western Saddles are Hard - its the same as English you get some comfy and some uncomfy!
 

Skib

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Kate - What are trail exercises? Sounds interesting. And since you recommend them, something I might like to do.

Truth to tell, I am not sure what Western Pleasure is either.

O, and Atillathefun, is there a good Western teacher near Hertford? I'm in Surrey but we have to go up there soemtimes, and even Essex is reachable. But I dont have a horse. I need someone who provides the horse.
 

Trewsers

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I ride English as does OH. Would love to try western eventually, but don't have a western saddle! Can't borrow one either, as nobody I know has one. Its one thing I'd like to learn later on - when I've (hopefully) got a bit better with my English riding!:) The western saddles look sooooo comfy.......:D