Which style of riding?
Which Style of Horseback Riding?
The two basic styles of riding are English and western. Each method requires different tack, or equipment. The build of the horses differ, as
do the gaits of the animals. Exploring both styles is a possibility! We also work on bareback riding and vaulting basics. Basic driving
lessons are also available!
Riding lessons have many levels, and each takes time to perfect. To help you and/or your child decide on a riding style, listed below are the
basics of both riding styles.
Think of a cowboy hat and a saddle with a “horn” as mandatory
equipment for western riding. Western riders hold the reins in one
During a jog, the western term for a trot, the rider remains seated in
During a lope, western-trained horses move at a slower pace than
the English canter. That’s because cowboys on the range needed to
cover long distances at a steady, relaxed pace that would not easily
tire the horse.
Western saddles are larger and made to counter-balance a roped calf
or cow. The horn provides a place for lassos where they the rider can
grab the rope quickly. Stirrups hang lower for a straighter leg.
Western riders wear jeans, shirts, boots and, of course, the hallmark
cowboy hat. Beginners wear a helmet for added protection.
Tough, stocky work horses are the mainstay of a western stable.
Quarter horses fit the ideal western horse look and attitude.
An English rider holds the reins in both hands and posts
while trotting. Posting involves rising up from the
saddle with every other stride of the horse’s forelegs.
During a trot, a horse picks up his feet creating a
bouncier ride, but posting gives the rider a smoother
look and feel. A walking horse moves at a slower,
steady pace and does not require posting.
Cantering is a beautiful thing to watch when horse and
rider are in sync. The animal’s legs extend, reaching
out for the next step and the entire body is collected,
or taut and focused.
The light, close fit of an English saddle allows the rider
to control the horse with knees and thighs as well as
the reins. Stirrups are kept at a shorter length to allow
the rider’s knees to bend. English riders wear breeches,
boots to the knees (or paddock boots and half chaps), a
shirt with a collar, and a helmet.
Although any horse can be trained in the English style,
thoroughbreds and warmbloods are often the horses of