What's the difference between English, Western, and Dressage?

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 horse.

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 sense?

Western riding involves using a western saddle, which is much heavier and larger than your English saddle.

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.








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