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Home » What’s the Difference Between English Riding and Western Riding?

What’s the Difference Between English Riding and Western Riding?

    English vs Western Riding What’s the Difference

    “What is the difference between English riding and Western riding?” is one of the things that beginning riders ask the most frequently, and it’s usually followed by “which one is the simplest to learn?”

    Depending on where you learned to ride, you might already be comfortable with either the English or Western style of riding, even if you have yet to learn of the difference between the two. Consequently, we should clarify precisely that!


    Western and English equestrian riding styles have distinctive qualities and equipment that are distinct from one another and are inspired by their respective origins. The first thing that might stand out to you is the tack and saddle used. An English saddle is more compact and lighter than a Western saddle. Its purpose is to assist the rider in dressage and jumping motions by bringing the rider’s body closer to the horse.

    Because it is more extensive and distributes the rider’s weight across a broader surface area of the horse, the Western saddle is slightly more comfortable. Therefore, it is the best choice for riding longer distances on more challenging terrain. The front of the saddle may also include a protrusion called a “horn,” which was historically employed to wrap the rider’s rope while cattle were driving.

    Riding styles

    Regarding riding styles, the primary distinction is that in Western riding, you will hold the reins lightly in one hand, and you will keep the other free at your side or ready to rope in the cattle. This is characteristic of the Western riding style. However, when you go on a ranch vacation in the United States, you will frequently witness people riding horses in the traditional cowboy style.

    Because the reins are held with both hands in English riding, the rider has greater control over the horse at the bit. When riding in this manner, you will need to become proficient in the rise and trot, also known as the post to the trot. This gait requires the rider to hold their position for a brief period during the horse’s bouncy gait, during which the animal transitions from one set of diagonal legs to the other. The jog, the equivalent rate in Western riding, is noticeably slower than the walk and doesn’t move the rider nearly as much, enabling the rider to sit without posting the horse.

    What kind of riding is most suitable for inexperienced riders?

    Some people believe that learning to ride Western horses after having experience with English riding is more complicated than learning to ride English horses after having experience with Western riding. Why? Because English riding requires more balance and coordination of the reins and legs, riders may not feel instantly secure in the saddle when they start learning the discipline. The beginner will have an easier time sitting comfortably and a greater sense of security when riding a giant Western saddle.

    Becoming an expert in either method requires a significant amount of time spent practicing, and both approaches are inherently superior to the other. What you want to get out of your riding lessons and the riding that is most convenient for you will impact the riding style you select. For example, in the United States, if you want to learn how to ride a horse, you will most likely be taught to ride in the Western style, but if show jumping is your thing, you will ride in the English manner. No matter what riding style you prefer, having a knowledgeable instructor will keep you safe and smiling while you’re in the saddle.

    Learn more: 8 Things to Look for When Buying a Horse