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The Basics of Horseback Riding

Hi! Its Ed again. Today I want to talk to you about some different ways that humans ride horses. There are many different styles of horseback riding (we call these disciplines).

There are two major categories of horseback riding: English and Western. These major categories are determined by their tack! A saddle is what the horseback rider sits on. English saddles look very different from western saddles and have very different jobs. The bridle is what goes around my head. The bridle also has a bit which goes in my mouth.

English Saddles

This is an example of an English saddle. It is a small and lightweight saddle. Its job is to provide close contact between the horse and the rider. It may be less comfortable than a western saddle, but it gives the rider more control for precise movements of the horse.

Western Saddles

Western saddles are what ranchers when they herd cows with horses. The same ones you see cowboys use in old western movies! Western saddles are usually larger than English saddles. They are designed to spread the weight of the rider out over the horses back. This makes the horse and rider more comfortable during long days traveling and herding cows.

Here is a picture of my friend, Levi, wearing a bridle. You can see the D ring of the bit that is in his mouth. The reins come off of the bit and are what his rider holds. In Western riding, riders use only one hand to hold the reins and they control the horse with very little contact (pressure) in the horse’s mouth. English riders hold one rein in each hand and use contact (pressure) in the horse’s mouth as part of the signal.

Now you know the basics of English and Western riding! There are many difference riding disciplines within these categories and some others that do not fall into either English or Western riding.

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