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What Is The Difference Between English And Western Riding Styles?

What Is The Difference Between English And Western Riding Styles?

Can you tell the difference between them?


One question that is frequently asked by people that are just starting to learn how to ride horses is the difference between English and Western styles of riding. The primary difference between both styles is in how the rider controls the speed and direction of the horse and the riding gears used. At Open Nutrition, we help riders of all styles keep their horses healthy and strong with outstanding supplements, so we’ve learned a thing or two about what makes the styles unique!

Western saddle on horse with bridle hanging on horn

Riding Gears

The Western saddle is a lot heavier and larger compared to the English saddle. This design helps to distribute the weight of the rider over a larger area and makes riding in this style more comfortable. The English saddle, on the other hand, is smaller and lighter. This design brings the rider in closer contact with the horse, which is crucial for the type of control of the riding style.

Black friesian horse


In the English riding style, the rider comes in close contact with the horse and controls her via the reins in the mouth of the horse. The saddle and rider’s legs are also used as aids to control the speed and direction of the horse. Western riding, on the other hand, does not require as much contact with the horse. The rider uses neck reining and his weight to communicate with the horse.

Brown horse leaps over hedge

Sitting Position

The riding position in both of these riding styles is practically the same. In both cases, the rider sits straight and tall without leaning forward or backward. For the English riding style, the reins are held in each hand. In the western style, only one hand is used to hold both reins. This allows the rider to have one hand free.

Side view of horse leaping

Type of Horse

Each riding style is made to encourage cooperation and ease between horse and rider. Because Western-style horses are bred to travel steadily all day and provide short bursts of speed to herd cattle, they’re more compact and the Western riding style agrees with them better. On the other hand, English-style horses tend to be taller and more leggy, which enables them to jump over obstacles and travel significant distances at different speeds. In this case, the English riding style makes more sense.


So which of these riding positions is easier and more convenient? First, the larger saddle means riding in the western style is generally more convenient for a beginner. The English rider is also more difficult for beginners since it involves controlling multiple aspects of riding. While it is possible for anyone to master either of these racing styles, most people find western riding better suited for beginners. Whatever your preference, make Open Nutrition your source for equine supplements and health support.

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