Type of Horse
Western horses tend to be compact and capable of steady travel all day with small bursts of speed to chase stray cattle.
English style horses tend to be taller and many are leggy, aiding their ability to travel over long distances at a variety of speeds as well as jump over a variety of obstacles.
However, some individuals have surprising talents, and a stocky Quarter Horse may surprise you in the dressage ring, while a Thoroughbred might have unexpected “cow sense.” There are always exceptions to every rule. Chances are you can find some success in any discipline or riding style no matter what your horse’s type or breeding.
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Western and English riders label the gaits of a horse differently. Generally, an English horse is expected to have a long flowing way of going, with variations of speed, cadence, and collection, while a western horse is expected to travel low, smoothly and very consistently. Here are the differences in each gait.
- Walk: Very similar for both English and Western.
- Trot/Jog: A jog is very smooth, relaxed, and slightly faster than a walk. The jog is useful for following herds of cattle. Riders sit a jog and do not post. In English riding, the trot is posted unless a sitting trot is required in the show ring. This is one of the largest differences in who English riders ride compared to western riders. A faster trot is, however, posted or ridden at two-point when riding western.
- Canter/Lope: The Western lope is a slow relaxed canter. English riders will learn that the canter can be very elevated, extended, or collected with many variations in speed depending on the specific discipline or style.
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The most distinctive element of western riding is the traditional western hat. A comfortable shirt, jeans and western-style boots complete the look. Many Western riders opt to wear sporty looking helmets, even when showing.
English riders wear a traditional style hunt cap or helmet. A fitted jacket, shirt, jodhpurs or breeches and jodhpur boots or tall boots complete the English rider’s habit.
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The Basics of What You’ll Need to Know
Western riders will learn how to neck rein. English riders will ride with a rein in each hand and post the trot. There are many different skills you will need to learn if you plan to compete. You’ll need to learn to braid or band a mane, pull a tail, and other grooming details depending on what you are competing in.
English and Western Riding Disciplines
After learning the basics of either style, there are many sports you can try. These are just a few:
- Team penning
- Speed Games
- Trail Classes
- Pleasure and Equitation Classes
- Trail riding
- English or English Country Pleasure
- Mounted Games
- Hunter Pace
Sports In Which You Could Ride Either Or English or Western Style
Some sports allow for either style of riding.
- Trail riding
- Endurance racing
- Competitive trail riding
- Competitive mounted orienteering
- Some local open shows have mixed English/Western classes.
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