Saturday, May 25, 2013

English vs Western

When my friend said she didn't want to see my mares movement wasted through western riding, I thought of this video. The first one I had seen before and sent it to a new acquaintance to show them the differences between disciplines. When looking for it to post here, I found the second one too.
I like the music selections. 
Watch closely as the western horse is making his way out of the arena. The rider is cueing for lead changes and getting them, but they are a bit 'bouncy'.
While most of the four horses performances are not letter perfect, it clearly shows that you CAN ride either English or western and pull it off either way. If you can ride and know the basic cues of moving the hip or shoulders over, balance, contact, collection and everything else that goes with it- you can do it in either saddle wearing whatever clothing you like.
Now when I said their performances aren't letter perfect- I am talking mostly about the spins on the western horses. Neither one plants their pivot foot worth a damn, but I digress... Also the big bay dressage horse- the hind legs in the canter piroutte seem to hop together at times and should move more independently. Granted it is one movement out of how many??? But IMO, they should work on that and do it well or not at all. Is that really too much to ask?
Lynn Palm proved on Rugged Lark, that you could do a canter piroutte and go into a reining spin. I'm not a fan of her riding or training, but she was the first person to take the time and inititive to train the horse in both reining and dressage and actually DO IT. Now I'm not going to try turning my mare into a reiner or think she is anywhere near doing canter pirouttes, but hopefully one of these days I can get video or at least pictures of my mare under both sets of tack, doing the basic gaits. The movement and cues are all the same, just different tack and clothes. How many western riders have you seen posting? So why the big fuss or fight over which set of tack you use or what the gait is called? I have no idea.

One thing the hubby said to me was that I need to choose what I am working on with this mare. "Is she going to be a western horse or an English horse? Pick something to FOCUS on." This is along the lines of- Do one thing and do it exceptionally well or do a little bit of everything and be just 'ok' at all of it.  Ultimately she could go either way and looks equally as good under either set of tack. Did I mention she ground ties? Could you imagine her as a rope horse? That coming out of the box after a cow would be a helluv an adrenaline RUSH!  Lol!  
For now we will continue to work on the basics- rhythm, relaxation, balance, forward movement and a soft, supple horse. From there- we can go any direction. Once that's established it is up to the horse as to what she excells at and Wants to do. If going slower and collected is her thing- western it is. If she does well under English tack and my hunt saddle fits- we go that route and try cross rails to see if low hunters is something that excites her... Time will tell.  



  1. I had a coach tell me a while back that western riding(specifically neck reining done right) is dressage at its basics. Interesting

  2. I don't think the tack matters one whit, the tack is just an excuse for folks not to take the time to train. Training matters more than tack. I've done reining work in an English saddle (that said, it was an all-purpose eventer) and dressage work in a Western saddle.

    It's training, not tack. And the basics are the same no matter what the tack.