English Riding

Do you ride English or Western?
What is the difference?

English Riding:

  • English riding came from the British military tradition.  The saddle – featuring a knee-roll – is smaller and lighter than the Western version, allowing more direct contact with the horse’s back.

  • The rider uses the reins, seat, and legs to control the horse’s speed and direction, and has more direct contact with its mouth.
  • The rider takes a rein in each hand.
  • The stirrups are thinner than on a Western saddle.
  • Riders wear formal clothing – a fitter jacket, shirt, jodhpurs, tall boots, and a helmet.
  • The English saddle is suited to dressage, polo, hunting, and jumping activities.
  • Some skill is needed to ride English, because it is more difficult for riders to maintain their balance in these smaller saddles.

Western Riding

Do you ride English or Western?

What is the difference?

Western Riding:

  • Western riding involves a larger, heavier saddle because it developed from the working ranch tradition.  Cowboys needed to cover long distances, and this endurance-saddle spread the weight more evenly across the back of the horse.

  • The stirrups are thicker than on an English saddle.
  • This form of riding is more suited to rodeo and ranching activities.
  • The rider uses the seat, their weight, and neck-reining to signal instructions to the horse.
  • They take both reins in one hand, leaving the other hand free to work cattle (or rest on the thigh).
  • Traditional western clothing is worn – jeans, cowboy boots, and hats.
  • In remote locations, guns may also be carried or strapped to the saddle.
  • This type of riding is easier for beginners.  The large saddle, raised cantle, and pommel provide a more secure seat than the English version.

The Rodeo: Let It Ride!

Rough Stock Competitions.

  • Rough Stock Competitions include Bull Riding and Bronc Riding events.
  • The aim is for the cowboy to stay as long as possible on the back of a bucking animal.  This imitates the way young horses were traditionally “broken” on the ranch.
  • Bronc Riding has two divisions:  saddled and bareback riding.  These horses are no longer wild, but in fact are usually bred as bucking stock.  The rider has to hold onto the lead rope (bronc rein) and stay mounted.  The longest ride wins.
  • Bull Riding is a more dangerous version of the sport.  The aim is the same – but bulls are more unpredictable than horses and can seriously injure a fallen rider.  For this reason a rodeo clown called the “bullfighter” helps to distract the animal once the rider is down.
  • Rough Stock Competitions also have “pick-up men” (and women) who assist the riders and get them to safety.  Yee haw!

The Rodeo: Grabbing The Bull By The Horns!

Steer Wrestling.

  • Steer Wrestling is also known as Bulldogging.
  • It involves grabbing onto the horns of the steer and wrestling it to the ground.
  • This is probably the most dangerous of all the rodeo events.
  • A cowboy bulldogger risks jumping off a running horse head-first and missing the animal.
  • There is also the possibility that the steer could land on top of him, sometimes horns first.
  • The winning cowboy has the fastest time, recorded when all four of the animal’s legs leave the ground.
  • A flag is raised to mark the end of the run.  Yee haw!

The Rodeo: Ride Your Best Horse!

Barrel Racing.

  • Professional Barrel Racing is a woman’s event, though men and boys occasionally compete at a local level.
  • The aim is for a horse and rider to complete a clover-leaf pattern around a set of barrels in the fastest time.
  • They ride around 3 x 35 gallon barrels, laid out in a triangular pattern in the middle of the arena.
  • Times are measured by an electronic eye, or by a judge with a stopwatch.  The fastest rider wins outright.
  • This sport tests for speed, strength, agility, riding skill, and control. Yee haw!

The Rodeo: Never Give Up!

Roping Competitions.

  • There are 3 types of roping events featured at most rodeos: Calf (Tie-down), Breakaway, and Team (Heading and Heeling) Roping.
  • These highlight the specific skills a cowboy needs to capture cattle for branding, tagging, medical, and other purposes.
  • Cowboys use looped ropes called lariats or lassos.  They are thrown on the heads of young steers, and over the horns and back legs of larger animals.
  • The oldest timed event in rodeo competition is Calf or Tie-down Roping.  Here, the cowboy ropes a running steer, dismounts, throws the calf on the ground, and tied three of its feet together. His horse slowly backs up to help keep the lariat tight.
  • Breakaway Roping is primarily for women, and boys under 12 years of age.  In this variant of the above event, a short, flagged rope is tied lightly to the saddle horn with string.  When the calf is caught around the neck, the horse stops and the rope breaks free.  The calf runs on without being thrown down or tied up.
  • Team Roping demonstrates the joint skills needed for Heading and Heeling.  It is the only event where women and men often work together.  One rider (the header) catches a full-grown running steer by the horns, while their partner (the heeler) lassos the animal’s hind legs.  Once the bull is captured the riders face each other and lightly pull both ropes taut.  Yee haw!