This page is designed for equine enthusiasts to come together and read about and share experiences they have had. The love of horses is one that is shared by many people so feel free to comment or just read about other peoples experiences and their favorite equine friend.

About Me

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I have been riding horses for 10 years and I am an active member of the United States Pony Club. I own 3 horses and I am an HB in the Pony Club rating system. I enjoy eventing, dressage, and instructing younger club members but love to do anything dealing with horses. Currently, I am studying animal sciences and hope to use this to increase my knowledge of horses.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What's the Big Difference?

When I'm at home with my horses, I am surrounded by other people who enjoy riding English just as much as I do. Now that I have been at Purdue for awhile, I have realized there is a whole new world of Western riders out there who are convinced that Western is the only way to go. This has been an ongoing battle for quite sometime between the equestrian community.

In my experiences, one major difference is the horses that are used for each. They are so completely different. Western horses always seem to be dead heads who can not find one thing scary or one thing to shy away from on the trails or in a show atmosphere. English horses on the other hand, or at least the eventing horses, are always on edge, ready to run fast and they are never hesitant to shy away from that trashcan that has been there for the past year or any other potentially scary object.

One weekend, two seasons ago, the horse park was hosting two different shows. They had an english show on one side of the road and a western show on the other side of the road. The routine at an English eventing show is that you drop your horse off, make sure they are settled, go out to dinner, and go to the hotel until the next morning of competition. The "westerners" however, are just starting to crank the music up and get loud and roudy around 8pm. Also, the worst feeling is walking your horse to your first class of the day, feeling like they are on cue, listening to you the whole time and then having them come completely unglued underneath you because one of those cowboys is swinging a rope over their head 50 yards in front of you.

Now, it might sound that I am completely bashing on the western community and this is not true at all. In fact, two weekends ago, I took one of my friends home with me and she is one of those crazy "westerners" and she talked me and my family into buying a western saddle. So, if you were to walk into the tack room of our barn now, you would see five english saddles and one very out of place western saddle. I honestly can not wait until this summer when I have the opportunity to play around a little bit in the new saddle.

The other major difference is the riding position of the two disciplines. English riders are always very proper and are always looking to create nice straight lines with their body. One of these ideal lines is from the ear to the shoulder, then the hip and the heel. It seems to me from the uneducated eye, that the style of western is more laid back. They always seem to have their feet in front of them and just be perching up there on top of the saddle.

Even though it might sound like I am very biased right now, you must understand that I have been riding english for 11 years and I don't adjust well to change. However, this summer I am looking forward to doing some trail riding and possibly trying my hand at some barrels or pole bending. You never know, next year I might be able to come back to Purdue as one of those crazy, barrel racing "westerners".

1 comment:

  1. Yea, it does sound like you are bashing western in this, haha. But I know the change is hard. I myself am actually going the other way. I have been riding western competetively for nine years, and just this last year have started making Vader go huntseat.

    But the differences I am facing are much more subtle. I ride in pleasure classes, horsemanship, equitation, etc. Whereas it seems that you are on the extremes of English and Western. When people think of the saddle you seem to be doing just that (English= jumpring/dressage Western= gaming/roping)For myself though there isn't that much a difference. Western Pleasure riders hold themselves in the saddle the same way our English riders do, with that line you were describing.

    Personally I think neither is better, it's all about preferance. I would rather run barrels than jump, but I think there are few things more beautiful than a good dressage pattern.

    Good luck with the adjustment, I know I am having fun!