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What is western?

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  • What is western?

    I ride western pleasure for the Morgan showring. That's all we do. I don't trail ride because, statistically, I don't ride out spooks. As in: I fall off every time and I'm too old to be falling off. I ride around the yard a little just to keep him from getting bored.

    But just because I ride in western tack with a grazing bit, am I western? When I read about roping, cutting, barrels, etc. I think, in reality, I'm just one step up from w/j and not really riding at all. Just sitting on a horse.

    Kind of demoralizing, especially when I find even doing just this, to be a challenge.
    Ride like you mean it.

  • #2
    I think because you ride in Western tack and use Western aids you're Western. I mean, if you ride in English tack and use English aids you ride English. It doesn't matter that you only walk and trot, and don't participate in cross country, hunters, jumpers, equitation, or dressage. You ride. I wouldn't get too caught up in measuring yourself against some external rubric.

    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


    • #3
      I agree. Western is mostly a state of mind.


      • Original Poster

        There WAS a time when all I did was trail ride. At the end of the ride, usually with a bunch of other moms and all the kids...maybe 12 of us total...we'd gallop towards our apple tree and grab an apple off without slowing down. Got even trickier when all the outside apples had been plucked and we had to gallop into the branches to get one.

        Oh, for the days of my 30s!
        Ride like you mean it.


        • #5
          If you're riding in western tack with cowboy boots, you're a western rider. It's a state of mind and doesn't require that you gallop around chasing cows or doing sliding stops. I used to just be a trail rider in western tack, mainly walk/trot. And I totally considered myself a western rider.


          • #6
            I think it's a legitimate question. Usually when I tell somebody I ride, they ask, "English or western?" I have no idea how to answer that.

            Of course it doesn't matter because they probably don't know the difference anyway.

            I ride in a treeless McClellen saddle and a bitless bridle. I am focusing on ground work and clicker training right now anyway. I ride a breed that is neither English nor western by heritage or type. Most of my cues don't come through the reins (so neck reining isn't in or out of the picture). My clothes are neither English nor western. (I'm just happy if I can button them.) I have no trainer, but I study all sorts of books -- I guess mainly dressage, but also NH, which I guess are westernish.

            ETA: I always sit the trot. My boots are the paddock-boot type, so that's no help.

            So, I have no idea whether I ride English or western. Perhaps the answer is simply, "No."
            Last edited by Cindyg; Jan. 1, 2013, 11:49 PM.
            I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


            • #7
              Sorry. Inexplicable double post.
              I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by UrbanHennery View Post
                If you're riding in western tack with cowboy boots, you're a western rider. It's a state of mind and doesn't require that you gallop around chasing cows or doing sliding stops. I used to just be a trail rider in western tack, mainly walk/trot. And I totally considered myself a western rider.
                Maybe this is part of my confusion. I ride in English britches with paddock boots. And without being dressage, I apply dressage principles to my riding. I would ride only dressage if I could stay on the freaking horse. And I mean that truly: when the horse freaks, I am in the dirt.

                I'm definitely a wannabe!
                Ride like you mean it.


                • #9
                  Hmm how about:

                  horn = western

                  no horn = english

                  Cindyg = ancient viking meets calvary officer meets circus pony

                  The ninja monkeys are plotting my demise as we speak....


                  • #10
                    Cindyg doesn't have a horn, but sounds western to me. ezduzit definitely sounds western, even if he does wear britches.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cindyg View Post
                      My clothes are neither English nor western. (I'm just happy if I can button them.)
                      LOVE IT! For the first time in my life on COTH, I actually want a signature line!
                      P.S. Cindy, I enjoy your Facebook stuff.


                      • #12
                        I love how this conversation is going. Indeed; if you're riding treeless, bitless, clicker you are probably neither! I guess it could come down to whether you neck rein or direct rein -the former being Western and the latter English. Even then it feels like we're trying to fit terminology that may be behind the time with regard to its application.

                        The gear question just complicates things doesn't it. I've always ridden in breeches and tall boots, but since moving to my current barn -eventers and barrel racers who are clearly alot less uptight about things than I am -and riding a treeless EZ fit the tall boots and breeches are becoming less cohesive with my frame of mind. Here's a great example; the other day I wussed out of winter riding because literally my backside was freezing in my breeches (the top of me was under long johns, sweater and quilted jacket, but the bottom of me was just long underwear and breeches).

                        I said to my friend, "I'm going to ride in my carhartts if I can fit them over my boots!" I thought I was saying something pretty revolutionary.

                        "Sure, why not?" she says, "People do it all the time."

                        My eyes got big. Riding in other than breeches and tall boots? Then it occurred to me that I was hanging out with people who rode in shorts, jeans, overalls, and even...gasp...carhartts!

                        I'm really rethinking what I had known to be true. It's been since July and they're still teaching me things at this barn!

                        He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                        • #13
                          paulaedwina - I've totally trail ridden in my insulated Carhartt overalls. I've even done that wearing insulated muck boots or sorels (with tapederos on my stirrups). Of course that was back when I lived in MN. It's rarely that cold around here.


                          • #14
                            See? It's like I defected from Uptightland over to Unclenchalittleville! The idea of riding my horse in overalls is so new to this 43-almost-44-year-old!

                            He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


                            • Original Poster

                              I used to ride in jeans all the time but my brief stint with dressage...until the broken arm incident...made me a convert to kerrits riding tights. I love how stretchy they are. Very comfy.

                              And yes: a horn! And neck rein almost all the time. So western it is!!
                              Ride like you mean it.


                              • #16
                                "Hybrid." It's trendy now, you know...
                                It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by ezduzit View Post
                                  Maybe this is part of my confusion. I ride in English britches with paddock boots. And without being dressage, I apply dressage principles to my riding. I would ride only dressage if I could stay on the freaking horse. And I mean that truly: when the horse freaks, I am in the dirt.

                                  I'm definitely a wannabe!
                                  Just to clarify, I meant cowboy boots a bit tongue in cheek. I know "western" riders that ride in paddock boots, hiking boots, motorcycle boots, packer boots, whatever as long as they have an appropriate heel and sole. It really is a frame of mind.

                                  And also, I'm a reiner by discipline, but spend a lot of time working on "dressage" principles as they're good for both me and my pony.


                                  • #18
                                    English/ Dressage = aides.

                                    Western = cues.

                                    I am an eventer, so I use aides to communicate with my horse. Most Western riders that I have met use cues to communicate with their horses.

                                    I guess that I am wondering what your horse does to unseat you? I have always felt locked into a Western saddle, so much so that I feel a bit trapped. This is why I changed to English. If your stirrups are the correct length and you have your heels down, then it should be more difficult to unseat you. Also, pay attention to when your horse's back becomes tense. Then, you can be proactive about sticking in the tack during his antics.
                                    When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


                                    • #19
                                      So when my reining trainer yells "use your aides" across the arena, I'm actually riding English?


                                      • #20
                                        Are you certain that your trainer has always ridden Western/Reiners? Could he have a secret English background?

                                        It has been my experience that most English/Dressage instructors will use the term: Aides. It has been my experience that all of the Western instructors that I have known use: Cues. You have an enlightened instructor!

                                        I hope that you do realize that this was written tongue in cheek?
                                        When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!