All I know is I definitely walk differently when I'm wearing my Wranglers and my western spurs. Jingle-jangle-jingle.
As for expectations, I couldn't agree more that I expect my horses to be good now that I ride almost exclusively western. I think on how I babied and babysat my horses in my former riding life, and now I just shake my head in disbelief. I knew people who insisted their horses could not be tied at a horse show, so they took someone with them to HOLD their horse all day.
Go to any western event and you'll see horses not only tied, but tied close together, for hours, being patient and quiet. Why? Because that's their job.
When you ride western, the definitely is no discussion like this...
Unless you're working cattle for a living with your horse, "western" riding is about your preferences for accoutrements. Nothing more.
LOL, while I do consider myself mostly a western rider, I can NOT ride in jeans. OUCH!! I live in my riding tights while at the barn.
Originally Posted by 7HL
In fact, I cant believe how many people do ride in jeans. I am not talking riding jeans, but regular, normal seamed jeans.
I rode in jeans once a few months ago, didnt plan on going to barn, it was NOT comfortable at all. My calves were red for a few days. Maybe if I did it often, they would "toughen up", but why??
Tights are sooo much more comfortable. You can get light ones for summer, and toasty warm ones for winter.
I suspect some of it is because there have been a couple of posts about how in "English" riding it's okay for your horse to be a complete idiot about everything outside an arena (and some stuff inside it too) and Western is soooo much better because they don't put up with that - except that the arena-bound-pampered-princess English horses are a subset that even other folks who do English styles of riding often find annoying. So then you get other posts from people going 'hey, wait a minute, that's not English riding that's someone letting their horse get away with being an idiot!'
Originally Posted by 7HL
I personally find it hard to comment on what the differences might be because there's also a discrepancy between the people I know who ride Western and the people I know who ride English in terms of their goals, and so I can't tell if the differences I observe are because of the disciplines or because of the different goals. I mean, an English hunter show barn is a much different place than an English eventing barn, you know? So if all of the people I know who ride Western are way more laid back and relaxed about things (even stuff I think is stupid, like wearing helmets - why would you not wear one? Do you not like your brain?) is that because Western riders in general are like that, or because I've never been to a Western show barn, and if I went there it'd be much more like the English show barns I've seen, just with different tack?
All of that said - the trail thread is pretty interesting in terms of attitudes. :)
ETA: I can't ride in jeans either. I don't have to be wearing breeches or tights, but regular jeans are just uncomfortable.
I've always found English to be the same way...maybe not the ring riders but most of the normal horse owners. One western thing I noticed was that too many of the male riders figured testosterone taught them all they needed to know about riding, horse care and general barn knowledge (seeing too many bits put in backwards, saddles/bridles/etc. horribly fitted and a total lack of riding theory besides "kick him again")
Originally Posted by paulaedwina
Well, "collection" and "being on the bit" mean different things and involve achieving different ends (constant contact versus loose rein with a curb only engaging if the horse raises his head). But when I started riding other than poking around on bareback pony rides with baling twine on the halter as a bridle, I took Western lessons to start. Specifically eq and pleasure for Arabs as it was an Arab barn, but still, western tack, neck reining, etc. What you're describing ("whatever works, no lessons") is to me not really riding WESTERN as being the casual backyard horse owner. If you lived in an area where English was the norm you'd be toodling around in an old English saddle. Riding WESTERN is just as much a skill set as riding hunt seat or dressage.
Originally Posted by nikelodeon79
Or rather, riding in a Western discipline is. If you're just poking around in your own backyard, it really doesn't matter what kind of tack you have. Reining, cutting, gaming, WP, etc. all require the same kind of training as jumping, eventing, dressage, etc. And specialized horses-if I want to take up cutting, I don't think a somewhat arthritic ex-racehorse is going to work in the long term. A cutting-bred QH is probably going to be more useful.
"Western" just means you are using conventionally Western tack. "English" just means you're using conventionally English tack. Neither one is a discipline itself. Riding Western just means your saddle's got more leather on it.
I ride exclusively Western and prefer knee patch breeches with tall Western Boots and perhaps my chaps or chinks which fit wonderfully well over the breeches.
Originally Posted by 7HL
I don't like to ride in jeans as the seams rub.
Hmm. Riding is riding. I'm the same rider whether I have a western saddle, english saddle or no saddle. For me, riding western is a matter of riding in a western saddle. I change minor things, but have my heels down, eyes up, and am balanced and correct.
7HL, what do YOU think western riding is a matter of?
Originally Posted by Trakehner
I do like the "horse and rider need to do their job in a relaxed fashion" attitude in good Western riding.
That said, for every uptight English Dressage Queen who is terrified of anything that might spook a horse, there seems to be a Good Ol' Western rider who does not tolerate any sort of forward or, God Forbid, normal reaction from a horse. Trot too big? Shank that horse! Won't bend exactly when you want it to? Tie the bridle to the stirrup! Your 4 year old doesn't want to stand still? Tie her to the wall and scare her until she gets too tired to freak out.
I've seen both types of rider, and both are bad.
"Riding Western is not a matter of ..."
... buying a western saddle because that's the "REAL American way to ride"
... buying a western saddle because English saddles are "English" and this is America
... buying a western saddle because you don't want to take lessons, you just want to get on the horse and go
... buying a western saddle because it has a horn you can hang on to when you get on the horse and go
... buying a "snaffle" (oops, a "broke" bit) that has shanks so is really a curb but the guys at the tractor store told you any "broke" bit was a snaffle
... buying a bit that will cause your horse to break at the "pole," get his hind end up under him, bend at the ribcage, lift his shoulder, and that will "put some bite" on him when he throws up his head when you pull on his mouth
... "Kick him to make him go" and "Pull on the reins to make him stop"
Riding western IS a matter of learning to ride properly in a western saddle with a bit that is appropriate for your riding activity and for your horse!
(And when I started out doing dressage, using an English saddle, and was told about the Youtube videos of "Dressage Meets Western" etc., I always fell in love with the reining horses and their riders rather than the dressage ones. So now I do western dressage!)
After having taught lessons for many years I can say it is much easier to go from western to hunt seat than the other way around.
Western is about limited contact, riding from the seat, not the reins, trusting the horse to do their job and to do it quietly.
In my experience riders from other disciplines have a difficult time giving up the contact because they feel they are giving up control.
After having taught lessons for many years I can say that it is much easier to go from a good rider on any discipline, knowledgeable of the technical aspects of riding, not the more seat of the pants rider, than a get on and ride type rider, that has to learn an independent seat and some polite communication with the horse.
Originally Posted by Luseride
We can find just as many bad riders, for many reasons bad, in either way of riding, just as we can find good ones, in both camps.
We are comparing apples and bananas when we focus on the saddle or discipline, forgetting that there are good riders and bad ones in all we do.
I would say many beginner English riders are just that, beginners and advance as their ability and time to learn permits, just as western riders do.
Western riders have in the USA many more seat of the pants, kick and jerk riders than English ones, because there are more of them.;)
Just go to any playday and be ashamed how so many there ride.:eek:
That doesn't mean all western riders or even all playday riders are that bad, just as finding some arena flowers, be it western or English, that can't ride outside, means their discipline makes them a bad rider because they are confident only in arenas.
They are just riders of limited skills.
The focus here is more on what some posters experiences are, forgetting the horse world is so much more than any one kind of riding is better than another because of the kind of pants you like to wear.:p
Yes I know I'm generalizing, but there it is.
Quoted from my post. Just for clarification.
Exactly. It's a preference in riding tack or "attidude," as 7 said.
Originally Posted by danceronice
Another poster said good riding is good riding. The same is true if you're just asking your horse to cart you around. And since we're generalizing, I see more riders of the latter type in western tack.
Yes, it is an attitude.
Originally Posted by 7HL
I totally get the question, but I doubt I am eloquent enough to put it into words the masses would understand.
However, I think MrBlueMoon said it best when I was struggling with a decision about whether to sell a horse that wasn't suiting my western needs or to just switch to english.
His answer.... "But honey, you are a cowgirl."
::shrug:: He was right. It's not the saddle or the bit, or even riding in jeans without a helmet (although I always wear mine). It's just something "je ne sais quoi".
And that "something", I suppose, is what has made folks stop me when I am shopping in Tractor Supply and ask "Do you have horses?" and I am not in the equine section, nor wearing anything that screams "cowgirl". Or the night the biker dude came up to me in a bar and asks me out of the blue the same question. (and no, it wasn't a pick-up line... we spent the better part of the next hour discussing his minis and my quarter horse!)
I dunno.... I can't explain it but this is a great thread.
I'm not really sure what "camp" I fit into - all of the riding lessons I've ever taken were coming from the English disciplines. And I've known people whose heads would explode at the thought of some of the things I do regularly with my own horse.
When it comes to tack, I'm kind of a "mutt."
I ride my TWH in an English bridle with small silver conchos where the browband meets the crownpiece (bought them at a craft store and put them on because I liked how they looked). The bit I use is a Robart pinchless walking horse bit. No massive 10" long shanks or anything dangly or wacky about the mouthpiece, and my horse goes light and relaxed in it.
And I ride in a western saddle (Tucker trail, Cheyenne model). Honestly, I could do without the horn. It just seems to get in the way most of the time, but everything else about the saddle I love, so I'm going to hang on to it for now.
When it comes to attitude, I have certain expectations for my horse. He is expected to ground tie. He is expected to wait quietly when we encounter a lot of debris on trail, and I have to dismount in order to clear it so that we can get through. He is expected to stand quietly if I have to dismount on trail for a "potty break." He is expected to walk on quietly if I drag a tree limb alongside him while I am on his back, to move it off the trail. He is expected to share a hitching rail with other horses, without creating any "drama," and to just mind his own business. He is expected to cross streams, whether they're an inch deep or up past his knees. He is expected to go out on trail "solo" or ride in a large group without getting buddy sour or barn sour.
It is not necessary for him to spook at things like noisy machinery, cars, steamrollers, tractors, mowers, ATVs, dirt bikes, feral children, barking dogs, model airplanes, loud music, construction projects, large rocks, wildlife, hikers, hunters, mushroom-ers, or any of the other things we encounter in the real world.
There is no bubble-wrapping, there is no coddling, there is no psycho-babble about his "personality" or attributing his behavior to the alignment of the stars or whatever other excuses people use. I don't freak out about stuff, so he doesn't either. I don't expect the world to come to a halt because it might bother or scare my horse. He does what he does, and he does it well, and that's all I ask of him.
FWIW, I was at a cattle clinic this weekend and half of the riders were in helmets. Men included! I think some attitudes may be changing...
Sorry, 7HL. You're going to have a discussion over whether a person should ride in jeans here, too.
I can only wear jeans if my skin has toughened up from riding 3 or 4 hours every day. I almost exclusively wear breeches, and if it isn't hot I wear chinks over them.
I ride in order to manage a breeding herd of several hundred cows. I suppose that makes me a 'real' western rider, though I am just learning how to handle a rope. It would have been a lot easier if I had been roping things since I was 4!
Usually I ride in a western saddle, and a short ride is 1 1/2 hours and probably covers several hundred acres.
I was an event rider who did a few hunter and dressage shows, whatever was fun, in a past life (late 80's and early 90's). Now I live on a cattle ranch. I still prefer my OTTB and how he moves and covers ground, to the average ranch horse. Luckily Mr. OTTB is really cowy and starting to be smart with a rope, but even in buckaroo tack and a wade saddle my OTTB stands out from the crowd.
"On the bit", "collection", etc when done correctly is the same whatever tack the horse is wearing, and whatever clothes the rider is wearing. Western riders tend to go about trying to get their horse there, in a different manner than English riders do, and their mistakes tend to look different (behind the vertical, pulling constantly on the reins for english, head way down low and evading the bit on a loose rein, but still behind the vertical for western; both with a bunch of weight dumped on the forehand).
Another 'english vs western' difference I see is that western riders tend to think that a horse who is compliant trying get the heck out of your way, because you'll punish him if he does it wrong, is 'correct'. English riders tend to gloss over 'minor tantrums' or problems so the horse doesn't get all wound up. Neither of these strategies is truly effective at getting a horse completely OK with something that initially bothers him, but I do think the strategies reflect the genetics of the horses typically used: In my opinion, Quarter Horses have been bred to tolerate a lot, a 'quiet mind' and a horse that doesn't get too uptight about anything is actively bred for in the stock horse culture. I know the 'age of the Thoroughbred' may be past, since warmbloods tend to populate the sporthorse world in this country now, but many english riders grew up in a culture where a horse might have all kinds of talent to jump, yet be high strung. So training strategies were developed to avoid getting the horse really upset. Nowadays, the western performance (cutting, barrel racing) horses can be plenty hot or high strung, and the hunter rings populated with tolerant, quiet warmbloods, but I think the culture and trainer tendencies are still there.