About WEST STAR
Unforgettable trail rides
Simple riding technique
What’s the difference between American (Western) riding style and classic, English-style sports riding?
First, the saddle. Western saddles are designed for an entire day of riding, so they have deeper seats, higher pommels & cantles, which ensures more comfort and support for the rider. They are perfect for all people, regardless of previous horseback riding experience. In theory, the horn is for the lariat, but since we do not chase cows (especially the ones we do not own), beginning riders can use it as a handle for extra support. English sports saddle is smaller and lighter, has a low, practically non-existent, pommel — which is highly reasonable for jumping. However, riding a full day in such a saddle would be a nightmare — just like it would be impossible to jump obstacles higher than one meter in a Western saddle. So, both types have their distinct uses.
Second, control (reins and bits). In Western riding style, a horse has its head, and the reins are slightly loose. So, horses have more freedom of movement and direction. They don’t just obey — they literally use their heads. The bits are larger and stricter than those used in the English sports riding style, though. But, they are more of a precautionary measure — Western bits act like emergency brakes rather than actual control tools (as opposed to English sports riding where the rider controls horses’ every movement — right, left, etc. — with bits). The need for such brakes is perfectly justified —another feature of Western horse riding is training outdoors, not in the arena. And today, real-life conditions have some potentially scary things for the horses — trucks, bikes, and other monsters that exist only in the horses’ imagination. So, if a horse gets scared, a rider must be able to stop it — and quickly. A scared horse can run like crazy and inflict more harm on itself than on a person riding it.
Third, the horse’s physical activity. Western riding does not presuppose any excessive exercise for the horse or the rider. Western mounts are not trained for show jumping or races. Sure, they can run and jump, but they do it naturally, pretty much as they would in the wild (well, maybe just a little bit more often than in the wild). The primary goal of a well-trained Western horse is to understand riders and their commands, carrying people long-distance. They can walk, trot, and gallop, and if necessary, they can jump over a spring or a log in the woods — but that’s pretty much it. So, there is no unnatural pressure, which means the horses are calmer and better-behaved — simply because they are less stressed out.
What does this all mean for people interested in horse riding? Simple — today’s Western riding in Ukraine is an amateur sport. It is a hobby, not a professional activity. Unless, of course, you live on a ranch and work with cattle — which few of us do. For most people, Western horse riding is an excellent opportunity to spend some quality time with the horses, learn the basic horse riding skills, master some ground rules of horses’ behavior and communication habits, and — of course — a chance to get fit. Nobody is talking about shows, competitions, or prizes — not in Ukraine, at least. Western riding is something you do for yourself, for fun. More importantly, you do not have to over-stress or deal with any unnatural workload — and neither does the horse.