Riding Styles English or Western. Dressage or Show Jumping

So, you want to learn how to ride a horse, but then you found out that there are two different types of horse riding, English and Western. Now, you need to choose the right one for you, but are they really that different? Is one better than the other?

English Versus Western Riding Styles?

Actually, English and Western riding are really pretty different in many ways, but they are also very similar in at least one way. Both styles of riding require a lot of practice if you plan on riding your horse in competition.

You can learn to be a competent pleasure rider fairly quickly, if you consider Western riding. Western is a more relaxed style of riding and it’s usually easier for the complete beginner to pick up.

But if you want to eventually compete and aren’t sure exactly what you want to compete in, which riding style should you focus on?

If you fancy some excitement and want to learn to show jump or think you’ll enjoy the pressure of dressage competitions then you’ll need to focus on the English style of riding.

If barrel racing or rodeo competitions are your thing, then you should focus on the Western style of riding.

If endurance riding or equestrian eventing appeal to you then there are competitions for both in Western and English.

Firstly, consider your personality.

Are you easy going and relaxed? Do you have trouble sitting straight in a chair? Does the thought of wearing anything dressier than jeans make you break out in hives?

If so, then you should really consider Western riding. This style is definitely more relaxed and riders are expected to actually lean back a bit while they are riding. Even better, riders are actually supposed to wear jeans, when they are competing in events.

On the other hand, if you love to dress up. If you can develop good posture and a deep seat, then you may want to try riding in the English style, instead.

Of course, besides your posture in the saddle and the clothes you wear, there are other differences between the two riding styles. English style riders hold the bridle reins in both hands, while Western riders hold the reins in one hand. Also, English style riders have much shorter stirrups than Western riders.

While Western riding is basically the same no matter what events you are competing in, the English style has several distinct variations.

When you begin riding, you will need to decide between the hunt seat style and the saddle seat style. If you want to compete in jumping competitions, you should opt for hunt seat style. If you just want to ride your horse on the trail or you want to compete in saddle seat shows, you will want to learn using the saddle seat style. As you advance, you may opt to switch to dressage.

No matter what riding style you choose, be should that you always wear the proper equestrian attire and good protective equipment.

Most English style riders wear riding helmets, but many Western style riders wear just wear cowboy hats and while the cowboy hat may look more stylish, they do not provide any protection if you fall off your horse. At the very least, wear a helmet while in your riding lessons.

Dressage or Show Jumping Competitions?

Once you’ve chosen your riding style you’ll want to do something more with your horse than just hack up the lane.

While a small percentage of riders will opt for equestrian eventing or endurance riding, most riders will try dressage or show jumping. Dressage is growing in popularity while show jumping has remained the most popular equestrian sport for years.