Major Differences; English v. Western

Kimmy.Platinum

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May 21, 2016
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My barn always starts riders off in a Western saddle, but offers English later on. I've reached the point where English is an option. I wanted to know some of the major differences/advantages of each sport, so that I could make a better decision. Of course, I could always just try it out or switch between the two, but I want to know a bit about the more prominent points of riding in each discipline.
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Apr 30, 2010
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I have tried a little Western riding and it seems to me to be just like another language, at least for flatwork. The desired outcome is the same: a supple, responsive horse, carrying himself and you easily and obediently whatever you want to do. The cues are different.

I think the biggest difference has to be in jumping. You don't see anyone show jumping or eventing on a Western saddle, though I know it is possible to jump in them.

There are lots of people on here much better informed than me, though!
 

Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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Part of my rider education to learn both. My OH started with Western as easier for elderly beginner. Classical riding is easier for Western riders to pick upso you have a good start.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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The differences are small but big at the same time, the body position varies slightly and how you use your body and weight varies, the biggest difference is the amount of contact you ride with in both hand and leg, though it does depend if you are doing dressage or HUS just like there are differences between a pleasure rider and barrel racer :p
Probably the reason the school starts everyone western is it is a little bit like the difference between sitting in an arm chair vs on a stool, one requires your balance to be a little more refined, that is not to say western is less refined at all (I've done a lot of both and know that is 100% not the case) just that the nature of the saddle is a little more forgiving to beginners :p English saddles are a bit less so, I've seen many an experienced western rider hop on one side and keep going off the other as there just isn't so much to guide you in to place :p I've also had a hunt rider get on my western trained horse and get lope, stop, lope, stop all in about 6 strides and she nearly came out the front door and the back and blamed the horse for misbehaving when actually her aids were just stronger than what he was used to and he reacted exactly as he had been trained to do, to body weight changes and light rein and leg aids (that would be normal 'contact' for a hunt horse) :D
Which western discipline have you been focusing on? and which English discipline are they offering you to try? I might be able to give some more specific difference examples for you :D
 

Kimmy.Platinum

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May 21, 2016
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The differences are small but big at the same time, the body position varies slightly and how you use your body and weight varies, the biggest difference is the amount of contact you ride with in both hand and leg, though it does depend if you are doing dressage or HUS just like there are differences between a pleasure rider and barrel racer :p
Probably the reason the school starts everyone western is it is a little bit like the difference between sitting in an arm chair vs on a stool, one requires your balance to be a little more refined, that is not to say western is less refined at all (I've done a lot of both and know that is 100% not the case) just that the nature of the saddle is a little more forgiving to beginners :p English saddles are a bit less so, I've seen many an experienced western rider hop on one side and keep going off the other as there just isn't so much to guide you in to place :p I've also had a hunt rider get on my western trained horse and get lope, stop, lope, stop all in about 6 strides and she nearly came out the front door and the back and blamed the horse for misbehaving when actually her aids were just stronger than what he was used to and he reacted exactly as he had been trained to do, to body weight changes and light rein and leg aids (that would be normal 'contact' for a hunt horse) :D
Which western discipline have you been focusing on? and which English discipline are they offering you to try? I might be able to give some more specific difference examples for you :D
Thank you so much! I guess I'm not really practicing a "specific" discipline right now. What I ride would be closest to Western pleasure, and the English lessons would be closest to dressage. There is jumping, but that's for the advanced English riders, for obvious reasons.
 
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