What is the Difference Between English and Western Riding?

What is the difference between english and western riding? Really, riding english just for fun, and riding western just for fun are very similar. The saddles and equipment are a little different, and sometimes how you steer is different, but for riding around home or on trail rides there’s very little difference between english and western riding.

However in showing, especially at the upper levels, there is a big, big difference between english and western riding- although still many similarities. Well trained english horses have a very different way of moving from a western horse, Western riders cue their horses differently than english riders, etc. Past a certain training level, the terms "western" and "english" split off into even more specific areas, like dressage, show jumping, hunter for english, working cow horse, western pleasure, speed events for western horses- and a grey area in between- endurance riding, trail riding, saddle seat, gaited pleasure riding, etc.

The main difference between english and western riding is the type of saddle used. Relatively flat, lightweight saddles with metal stirrups are english saddles, and larger, heavier saddles with a supportive seat and a horn in the front of the saddle are western saddles. Although the differences between english and western riding are significant at competitive levels, the type of saddle is the only major difference in pleasure riding.

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