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Working a Western horse vs English horse

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  • #21
    I have seen many western horses that have an uneducated mouth, to the point they don't know how to take and hold contact.
    Especially bad are cutting horses and in another way, many of the lower end speed horses.

    With cutting horses, it seems the trainers are spending all the time bumping the horses off the snaffle, where there is no contact at all.
    When we get one of those, they really need to be retrained from the basics, no matter how good they were at loping circles warming up and cutting in an arena.
    With speed horses, it is more a lack of a concept, more of a jerk and kick type riding.

    Many English riders, on the other hand, tend to be "hand riders", overly dependent on their hands for an aid and some, worse, for some balance.

    It is nice to see a western horse that can take contact and understand what it is, just as it is to see an English trained horse that you can ride on the buckle without the horse becoming discombobulated and traveling all over the place.

    I think the best way of training and riding is whatever works best, for what your goals are, for you and your horse and someone on the ground helping you know what they can see going on, so you can adjust to that, along with what you feel.

    The world is changing, information cross-pollinating and more and more trainers today at least understand there are other concepts and ways to ride out there and experiment with them.


    • #22
      Originally posted by mvp View Post
      I haven't seen that. Which side do they come down on-- pounds of pressure in the hand or the "signal bit" approach?

      They come down on the side of Allowing rather than Making. I found the video. It is over an hour long. Very interesting.
      Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


      • #23
        One thing I didn't see mentioned: OP, make sure you let the reins come out of your hand between thumb and forefinger and kind of let them drape across the sensitive tips of your forefingers. Taking off your gloves and using a heavier rein (Western bridle instead of English) will also help you feel the more subtle contact and release (mainly a change in the weight of the rein as you add or remove slack) a decent Western horse will expect. If the saddle fits you and the horse correctly, the longer stirrups should just put you in a dressage seat. You'll also find that leg contact is much lighter and it might take a bit of practice to feel that lighter contact through the stirrup fender (and, the way Western stirrups hang, you'll find you're perfectly stable without hugging the horse with 'heavy' English-type leg contact).

        I went from Western to English. While a balanced saddle is a balanced saddle, it's been quite an adjustment learning to put on so much hand and leg contact.


        • #24
          Originally posted by Plumcreek View Post
          It was hard for me to learn not to lean forward after riding english in my formative years. When this became a big issue with working cowhorse fence work, I started tucking my butt every time I came to a stop sign or light in the car, which helped, although DH ridiculed an occasional "whoa".

          I start the wither sucking leg action/lifting hand, at a walk, so everything is in slow motion which makes it easier to control. I always struggle with the reversed seat thing - when I am having trouble keeping a horse together, I check to see that the sacrum area of my butt is pushed forward and my seat is as far toward the horn as possible, so I can be effective, and the horse always gets easier to collect, funny how that works.

          The mental image of sucking the withers up into your lap really helps you do the right thing with your body.
          ....As does the mental image of using your legs like you were trying to squirt all the toothpaste out of the tube you are riding. My hunter trainer's sister often fills in for her, and her favorite anology is to ride a horse like you are pushing a full wheelbarrow, which you cannot do unless you are keeping it balanced and out in front of you.
          That is just so cool. I want to learn to pull a horse's shoulders up into my lap. Maybe I already do this a bit in dressage world? I don't know. But I would like to try it on a horse who knows how and with someone good teaching me.

          I feel you on learning *not* to lean out at a horse. That's so much a part of my HunterWorld foundation. But I will say that my rendition of sitting on a horse tends to be pretty correct (according to theoreticians) because when I do sit, I sit "straight down" from HunterPerch. I'm sitting on that triangle of pubic bone and sitting bones, not pussy-footing around about the, uh, front part. I have some abs right there in the mix.

          All this is to say that I don't know how Westerners get things done with their seat (in the way that Dressagers do) if they are always talking about "sitting on your jeans pockets."
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat


          • #25
            Originally posted by mvp View Post
            All this is to say that I don't know how Westerners get things done with their seat (in the way that Dressagers do) if they are always talking about "sitting on your jeans pockets."
            I was taught the exact seat you described as a western rider, and the use of seat has been the same across western/english *for me* and the lessons I've had.

            The ONLY times I've been told to sit on my jeans pockets were when I briefly showed I/I Western Pleasure, as a cue for the horse to be sloooow, and then decades later in an English lesson (except she called it "pizza butt") again as a cue to slow my horse's gaits.

            ETA: I think it's a matter of degrees. Plutting slightly more weight to the rear of the triangle should encourage the horse to rock its weight back slightly off the forehand. Whereas, truly sitting on your pockets puts you slightly behind the motion, for the same effect as slowing the working trot by posting slightly slower than the horse is traveling.


            • #26
              The description of how the pelvis sits on the horse is different for men and women because the pelvis is constructed differently. Men tend to naturally sit with the pelvis tucked underneath them. Their problem is getting the pelvis down in the front. Women are the reverse. We're the ones that need to be told to pull the front of the pelvis up to get a correct seat. Men also tend to weight the pelvis by moving the torso as if it were a solid block. Women find it easier to use the pelvis completely independently of the upper torso. All the dressage descriptions of a "correct" seat except for Sally Swift and Mary Wanless describe how a man should sit. The straight down leg is also something only easy for men and not truly necessary. Women shouldn't be trying to force it. But a correct seat is the same for english and western. Balance is balance.


              • #27
                Originally posted by mvp View Post
                I feel you on learning *not* to lean out at a horse. That's so much a part of my HunterWorld foundation. ."
                Yeah, every "leaner" needs to own a chicken-hearted stopper like I had. He was a hunter teaching machine. Lean forward even a little = stop, every time.

                The 'sit on your pockets' thing may be a remenant from 30 years ago, (pre-peanut rollers, pre-uber collection) when the preferred western horsemanship position was drawn with legs slightly forward to the stirrups. Now it is drawn exactly like a dressage seat with shoulder,hipbone, heel vertically aligned.

                mvp, here is a video for you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMo-w69I0WA
                Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                • #28
                  The trainer that started my younger mule works with everything from warmbloods headed to the dressage ring to quarter horses headed for reining competitions and they all get the same basics. The things you mention, like straightness, bending, moving off the aids, collection, and extension are common to everything.'Quote-NoSuchPerson

                  I suspect your "mule man" may well have started out riding English.
                  Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                  Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                    I suspect your "mule man" may well have started out riding English.
                    Nope. Saddle broncs and reiners. A gen-u-wine cowboy.
                    "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
                    that's even remotely true."

                    Homer Simpson


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                      The trainer that started my younger mule works with everything from warmbloods headed to the dressage ring to quarter horses headed for reining competitions and they all get the same basics. The things you mention, like straightness, bending, moving off the aids, collection, and extension are common to everything.'Quote-NoSuchPerson

                      I suspect your "mule man" may well have started out riding English.
                      Don't suspect that! Englishers really don't have a monopoly on that stuff.... even if the Germans have all kinds of untranslatable words for horse-body-moving concepts.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat