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Can a horse successfully go both English and Western?

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  • Can a horse successfully go both English and Western?

    I have a three year old mare that is born and bred for ranch work. She has great reining lines and thinks her life's mission is to track steers. I want to respect her athletic predisposition and do some Ranch Versatility with her, but I come from hunter-land and am not quite ready to abandon my tall boots and jumping.

    Is there any reason why my little ranch horse can't both work cows AND bop over a course?

    Are good horsemanship principles and riding fundamentals the same regardless of the discipline, or are the stylistic details of Western and English too different for a horse to be successful in both?

    I should qualify my idea of successful; I just want a utilitarian horse that is equally comfortable and happy doing a trail course as she is doing a 2' hunter course. All at the local level. Very modest ambitions.

    Also, is there an advantage to starting her either English or Western? Both? She's been under saddle, and can be functionally ridden, but we haven't really done much past go-whoa-left-right-back. I just want to avoid confusing and overwhelming her.

  • #2
    Yes, she can do both. Loads of horses do.

    In fact, some of my favorite horses have been ranch bred or old style QHs that have pulled double duty. Actually last year I spent several months reschooling a little QH gelding who had been a ranch horse chasing cattle in Wyoming in his previous life. He's now jumping 2' and packing lesson kids around.

    Good basics are all the same, so in that regard, starting her and getting her going is really no different no matter what discipline you eventually intend for her.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.

    Comment


    • #3
      You already said what I was looking for, local level and modest ambitions.

      With those two things, sure, with time. She's only 3, so if it were me, I'd pick one to focus on for now, an introduce the other as you go. When she learns to move off seat and leg more, direct rein or indirect rein won't make so much a difference. I've seen several horses at the local level competing happily and successfully in both disciplines, as long as the rider doesn't expect absolute perfection in both.

      Personally I'd start with focus on hus, sure you're not racing around at warp speed trot, but you do move out more than in wp, and I'd rather bring a horse back down than teach it to go sloooooow and have shove it forward. To keep her brain busy, break up technical work with trails or mock trail/obstacle courses, it keeps both of you from getting bored, trust me.

      All of this is of course just my most silly and humble opinion.
      Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
      RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
      RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
      RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by sirbeastmom View Post
        Is there any reason why my little ranch horse can't both work cows AND bop over a course?
        Well, you be the judge :

        My 1995 model Quarab team penning last year (under his lessee, who won a jackpot on him one of their first times out)

        Same horse jumping last year (under his lessee)

        He was raised on our working cattle ranch (back when) and I've done everything on him myself from work cattle (LOTS) to jumping (lots - recently he was schooling to 1.10m) and everything in between (pony horse on the Thoroughbred racetrack, parades, etc). Eta: he LOVES LOVES LOVES cattle but I always felt only humoured me when it came to jumping (though he's certainly good at it!). But imo most horses enjoy using themselves athletically and when a horse loves being with you, they won't mind humouring you once in awhile in other disciplines

        My love and current focus is jumping, but I still love working cattle and I expect any horse I ride to be versatile.

        Cross-training, imo, is incredibly beneficial to a horse. Working cattle in particular gives a horse a reason to do everything you ask of him, and well, which carries over to other endeavors.

        Are good horsemanship principles and riding fundamentals the same regardless of the discipline
        YES!!!!! I've ridden both western and english all my life and really feel the fundamentals are (or SHOULD be) the same. A good jumper has the same qualities you want in a good cow horse - focus on your dressage training scale to improve her way of going and her mental and emotional collection. With a solid foundation, refining for and tailoring to specific disciplines then is 'easy'.

        Imo it doesn't matter whether a horse is started in a western saddle or an english saddle. Personally, I prefer starting babies in western saddles, just because they are clunkier etc than an english saddle. Eta: what Beverley said! I also start on minimal contact ie, a looped rein, as part of an effort to develop responsibility, independence, and self-carriage in the baby.
        A solid foundation is a solid foundation - later transference to english or even riding bareback shouldn't cause an ear flicker.
        Last edited by naturalequus; Jan. 6, 2012, 11:44 AM.
        ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
        ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by sirbeastmom View Post
          Is there any reason why my little ranch horse can't both work cows AND bop over a course?

          Are good horsemanship principles and riding fundamentals the same regardless of the discipline, or are the stylistic details of Western and English too different for a horse to be successful in both?

          I should qualify my idea of successful; I just want a utilitarian horse that is equally comfortable and happy doing a trail course as she is doing a 2' hunter course. All at the local level. Very modest ambitions.

          Also, is there an advantage to starting her either English or Western? Both?
          Re paragraph 1: No, no reason at all! A quarter horse I hunted for 20 years switched to hunting (and never met a fence he didn't like) after a successful western pleasure career. With the exception of the OTTB, all of mine have been quarter horses, and all have 'gone both ways' happily.

          My now 9 yo appendix QH does trails, cattle work, back country packing 'mostly' in western saddle and goes hunting in the English saddle. My 7 yo mare hasn't hunted yet, but she will. I have played with her over fences a bit, and honestly- with a week or two of systematic schooling, she'd go to a hunter show and acquit herself well.

          Re paragraph 2: Good horsemanship is good horsemanship across all disciplines. Sure, some of the details differ slightly but the basics are the same. I've had horses that just adjusted their expectations based on which saddle is put on their backs, and others who don't pay attention to which saddle, they simply respond to the cues- you want to go off contact (western) or on contact (English)?

          Re last sentence: I don't think it really matters, I personally prefer to start young horses in a western saddle- it's easier on their backs and for any discipline I like to teach them the basics riding with elementary contact, so they learn how to carry themselves with the weight shift or the rider. I'll usually ride them for a year or so just western before introducing English saddle- but there is nothing magical about that, once they grasp being ridden, the saddle doesn't matter. The consistency and avoidance of confusion comes from the riding (use of seat, legs, hand), not the tack.

          Comment


          • #6
            Mildly off topic but

            Power to the grey Quarabs!!!!!!!

            Such a special spot in my heart.
            Owned by a Paint/TB and an OTTB.
            RIP Scoutin' For Trouble ~ 2011 at 10
            RIP Tasha's Last Tango ~ 2010 at ~23
            RIP In Sha' Allah ~ 2009 too young at 5

            Comment


            • #7
              Absolutely-yours is only 3 mines 21 and:
              ROM's in
              HUS, Reining, WP, Speed, Halter/Showmanship, Trail & Driving.
              Since I'm 8 months pregnant she is currently driving mostly [safer for me] although last yr showed 1st level Dressage & Hunted early fall.
              She can do as much as you want her to.

              As to which way to start, she was broke to cart first.

              Comment


              • #8
                Naturalequus, I like the looks of your Quarab! How tall is he?

                The lesson horses where I board my horse do both English and Western, and some of them do it remarkably well. It's pretty common to see a horse doing a gymkhana playday one week and a jumping session the next.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The main reason I would have an issue, would be that the QH type horse is not built for the job. Doing a job like jumping, even smaller fences, is harder on them than straight going. Horse has to lift a LOT in the front, especially with the built-in low neckset, to get over fences, then impact all that on the one leg, when landing. Does the horse have larger bone and hooves? Size of the hoof will make more weight per square inch impact, if hoof is smaller.

                  Horse being ridden in English or Western tack, you wearing attire that makes you comfortable is no an issue to the horse! A well broke horse will respond nicely to the legs, rein signals, body movement, whatever kind of tack he wears. Some training thought to be discipline specific is VERY helpful to all other uses of the horse. Horse doesn't have to be trained only one way, sharp as an expert in that discipline, to adapt the methods into other disciplines. Both direct reining and neck reining are useful in all kinds of riding endeavors. Prompt responses are ALWAYS desired when you ask things.

                  Just don't expect the big horse to be able to turn like the small one for moving cattle in the ring or in the pasture. Smaller horse may not be as "able" to do extensions or jump well, if not built for the job with free shoulder, higher neckset. I think doing various things is good for a horse, they get bored with one thing. Again, they can wear any tack that makes both you and them COMFORTABLE in that work. Cowboys have had "tall boots" for a hundred years, so English or Western, wear your tall boots!!

                  But don't get upset if horses are not "the best" at skills that don't suit their breed physique or natural ability. I am SICK of hearing how "MY TWH doesn't trot well!" DUH, NOT supposed to trot at all! Why buy gaited if you want to trot???

                  Don't MAKE horse work to improve a skill if their body style is against them. My big horses will move cattle, do good turns, slow spin, anything off my legs, rope work at the ranch horse level, but they are not built for reining. I would tear them up physically if I drilled and practiced to improve their reining skills. I COULD ride or drive them for many miles at a spanking pace, jump large fences, do dressage things, they would be excellent and hold up to those demands. Little QH types bred for cutting, reining, would not hold up so well to the the jobs my horses can excell at, wrong body style for it. Little QH types have other, equally good, DIFFERENT skills they can do well.

                  Just that owners don't always consider body styles and limit what they ask of a horse, in getting to skill levels the owners want to reach.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It doesn't matter the type of horse - you always have to pay attention to their builds.

                    But there's no reason a horse can't do both. I showed my QH in western pleasure and jumped him 4' courses. He was built uphill, with a great hind end, and that helped him both lope in a three-beat and power for jumping. (He jumped higher w/ my trainer, too, around 4'6". I was terrified of those heights!) He had also been in training w/ a cutting trainer at one point which was nuts, as at 16hh and uphill, he was definitely not made for that. It did, however, make him a blast to ride to help out the ropers when combined with his trail work - once I learned to hang on if I sent him after a cow!
                    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                    -meupatdoes

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      would be that the QH type horse is not built for the job.
                      the bulldog-type QH's maybe, but a "ranch" type QH is a fine athlete and can do anything.

                      I once observed someone trying to turn a real heavy bulldog QH into a "hunter" and it was just sad to watch. Course the horse couldn't have done anything other than WP + halter due to his build, so maybe it was just a sad commentary on whomever bred him overall.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Define "successfully."

                        The Western riders certainly think so. But if you see how they have modified the judging of the "English" classes, well ...

                        video of an example of "western" "hunter under saddle"
                        2008 AQHA World Show
                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KunqX...ayer_embedded#!

                        from this explanatory page
                        http://railandpatternhorse.com/blog/...terundersaddle


                        I am sure some horses can do both. The question is what you want in both, and if you have the right horse for what you personally want.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The old COTH adage "With enough booze, anything is possible!" applies here. If you really work at it and don't confuse the snot out of the horse by going back and forth between training methods and whatnot, you can make it happen with varying degrees of success. However, it really does depend on how deep and conditioned the horse really is with whatever you are starting off from.
                          Thus do we growl that our big toes have, at this moment, been thrown up from below!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LexInVA View Post
                            The old COTH adage "With enough booze, anything is possible!" applies here.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LexInVA View Post
                              The old COTH adage "With enough booze, anything is possible!" applies here. If you really work at it and don't confuse the snot out of the horse by going back and forth between training methods and whatnot, you can make it happen with varying degrees of success. However, it really does depend on how deep and conditioned the horse really is with whatever you are starting off from.
                              Or, you could just start the horse using good basic horsemanship, and then what you're "wearing" won't matter. Mine go back and forth all the time (tho I confess I'm too old to do much jumping).
                              "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                              Spay and neuter. Please.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                not uncommon at all for a Morgan

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Working Equitation ROCKS!!!!

                                  Check out "working equitation"

                                  One half of the test is dressage, and the second is essentially western trail ride at speed and style.

                                  http://www.workingequitationusa.com/

                                  FUN STUFF!!!!


                                  Here is part of the Portuguse/Euro version.
                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5895K-Xjupk

                                  The USA version has elements of using a western or english or portuguese saddle. You choose!

                                  For the Portuguese dressage and style element:
                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLLkPrBk_dQ
                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-f7VP2LLxw
                                  Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF
                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IZPHDzgX3s

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by laskiblue View Post
                                    Naturalequus, I like the looks of your Quarab! How tall is he?
                                    He's just a shade over 15.2hh.
                                    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                                    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by clanter View Post
                                      not uncommon at all for a Morgan
                                      Or a Lusitano!
                                      Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF
                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IZPHDzgX3s

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Yesss! My older gelding jumps 2'6, and excells in western games as well. My younger gelding does well with both western and english pleasure. I also know many other people that do the same as me It somewhat depends on the horses temperment and ability too, so do the disclipline that you/your horse does best and introduce the other one later and see where that leaves you. Hope this helps

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