First, there's a difference in tack. The western saddle is larger and heavier than the English saddle. It's designed to spread the weight of the rider over a larger area of the horses back, making it more comfortable for longer days on the trails, doing cattle work and etc. The english saddle is smaller and lighter and designed to give the rider a closer contact with the horse's back. With both the english and the western saddle, different designs are available to accomodate certain styles, sports and disciplines such as Dressage, Barrel Racing, Jumping, reining and etc.
As far as riding goes, the main difference between english and western riding is that in english riding, the rider takes a direct contact with the horse's mouth using the reins and uses the reins as part of the "aids" (along with the seat and the leg) for speed and direction. Most western riding horses are ridden on little or no contact and the rider uses his seat, his weight and neck-reining to give aids to the horse.
|Okay, I love barrel racing but whata kick.|
|Jumping Quarter Horse (source)|
- 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.
- 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.
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, especially 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 attire. When casually riding, most English riders tend to stick with breeches, boots and occasionally even a t-shirt, while Western riders will do the same.
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.
|From Tumblr, Beachcomber Photography 2009|
English and Western 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
|Team Penning (Source)|
- 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.