The Differences Between Riding Styles
English vs. Australian
So what gives? What makes one riding style better or worst than the other? Horse people are notoriously passionate about their riding style and discipline. We tend to back up our preferred style. That being said where is there an unbiased look into the different styles of riding, styles, and disciplines? Well here is one.
Each discipline has its advantages and some disadvantages. Making the decision on what riding style you would like to pursue takes time and a willingness to try new things. For a western rider to switch to English there is a lot of different terms and positions as well as the obvious differences in the saddles. Even western to an Australian stock saddle is a change horn or not.
English riding is a general term to mean any riding done in an English type saddle. Dressage, Jumping, Saddle seat are different disciplines of English Riding. The original idea behind the English saddle is to make it easier for the rider to clear fences to allow for hunting. With less material to get in the way of the rider and for the rider to better facilitate the horses actions. Dressage requires a close fitted saddle with a deep seat and knee rolls to help maintain body position. This is ridden with a longer leg than the other English disciplines. Saddle seat is also ridden with a long leg and exaggerated position. These saddles are very close contact and positions the rider further back on the horse to improve shoulder function and action in gaited or high action horses. Jumping and Hunt seat have similar leg positions. On these saddles there are knee rolls and pads to help keep the riders leg in position. When a “western” person first sits in an English saddle they notice how little leather is under and around them, it can give an exposed feeling. Western saddles are designed to protect the leg of the rider when on trail or in the wilderness. With all of these the basic principal is the same. Heels, hip, shoulder of the rider need to be inline.
The Australian Saddle takes the best of both the English and Western and combines them in style and some function. The Aussie saddle having no horn allows for the rider to be able to move with the horse as they tackle tough terrain. The added “knee pads” help to keep the rider in the saddle on sudden stops and down hill descents. The high cantle, and pommel help to hold the rider in. The stirrup position on the Aussie saddle is a little more forward than in a western saddle. The seat position is changed in that the legs are in front of the body. This makes it more comfortable for long hours riding and with tough terrain. One of the few issues with the Aussie saddle is the stirrups leathers, if not wide enough the leg can get pinched as the leathers lie out side of the flap and against the leg.
So a little bit to help you choose your next path in the riding world. Try new things, There are other disciplines out there, driving, sidesaddle, vaulting. Don't limit your mind and your options when it comes to the different equestrian styles. Good luck, and Happy Trails!