What are the Differences Between English and Western Riding Styles?

By Katherine Blocksdorf, About.com

Western riding developed according to the needs of 'cowboys'. The Western saddle is made to
distribute weight more evenly over the horse’s back so horse and rider can counterbalance the
weight of a roped cow. The seat is comfortable for long hours over rough terrain. The horn
anchors a lariat when roping cattle.

English riding takes many of its traditions and equipment from European mounted military styles.

Type of Horse:
Western horses tend to be compact and traditionally capable of steady travel all day with small
bursts of speed to chase stray cattle.

English style horses tend to be taller.

But 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’. Chances are your
horse and you can find some success—and certainly fun, at any discipline or riding style no matter
his type or breeding.

* 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. A trot is posted unless a sitting trot is
required in the show ring.
* Canter/Lope: The Western lope is a slow relaxed canter. An canter can be very elevated,
extended, or collected with many variations in speed depending on the specific discipline or style.

The most distinctive element of Western riding is the hat. Traditional Western hats are giving way
to the use of helmets. Western style helmets are available. A comfortable shirt, jeans and Western
style boots complete the traditional look. Many Western riders opt to wear sporty looking helmets,
even in the show ring.

English riders wear a traditional style ‘hunt cap’. A fitted jacket, shirt, jodhpurs or breeches and
jodphur boots or tall boots complete the English rider’s habit.

The Basics of What You’ll Need to Know:
Western riders will learn how to hold the reins with one hand, and sit the trot. English riders will
learn to hold a rein in each hand and post the trot. As you progress you will learn to cue and
control your horse for different speeds within each gait, and other skills you’ll need to participate in
various disciplines. 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.
Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156          fax: 301-421-9049