What's the difference between English, Western,
QUESTION: What is the differences of style
between western riding, english riding, and dressage?I'm
a young rider who has just started learning to
ride and I am not familiar with western riding
and dressage because i am only exposed to english
riding.What is the differences between western
riding, english riding, and dressage?
Many of the principles, though, such as balance,
understanding your horse, using your body, are
the same among the difference types.
Each type of riding is called a discipline. English
riding means using an English saddle. There are
several types of English saddles -- hunt, saddleseat,
dressage -- and each type of saddle is for a different
purpose and in some cases, a different type of
You're probably riding in a hunt type English
saddle. Do you have pads under your knees (do
the front flaps of the saddle stick out a little?)?
This is very common for riding in the hunt (think
of the British and how they used to "hunt"
foxes). It's also common for "hunters and
jumpers," which is riding horses who jump
fences, either in an arena or in a field. Saddleseat
saddles are used on Arabians (which I used to
do -- see the picture of Arn-ett
Paraaabba on my web site), Saddlebreds, Morgans,
and other English horses with high knee action.
There are no pads under the knees, and the actual
seat of the saddle is flatter, not rounded up
in the back like your English saddle. Dressage
saddles are similar to hunt saddles, I think.
Dressage is more of a discipline than a saddle.
Dressage is teaching a horse to move using leg
commands, voice commands, rein commands...dressage
is in effect the art of riding. All of my horses
were trained in first level dressage, but never
had a "dressage" saddle. Does that make
Western riding involves using a western saddle,
which is much heavier and larger than your English
The main differences in these riding disciplines,
though, comes in how the horse moves. Western
horses have a slower trot (jog trot), which in
its origin was meant to be an easy going trot
that would cover a lot of ground without tiring
the horse. The western horse's canter (lope) is
also generally slower and more relaxed.
English horses are horses who have a longer stride
and faster trot, and their canter also seems to
cover more ground. You ride an English horse with
a shorter rein to help balance them -- western
horses are ridden on a longer rein.
As for history -- the term "english"
riding really did come from the British bringing
their riding style to America. The term "western"
riding came from the American cowboy influence,
but is now world-wide.
These are some very GENERAL differences.