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Riding With Style… Western Style

When most of us think of Western riding, images of cowboys and riders dressed in traditional Western wear come to mind. In reality, Western style riding includes trail riding, competitive barrel racing, pole bending, and rodeo, as well as the pleasure and reining show classes.

Trail riding is a popular pastime, but is also a show class. It can be a very formal riding style, highly detail-oriented.

The Western style moves a horse makes can be just a bit different from the moves taught in English style trained horses. A Western competitive horse is often taught to do a roll-back, and also long-slide reining. It is also trained to neck-rein, which means that the horse will move to the right or left depending on which side of the neck the rider applies pressure with the reins.

One of the central aspects of training a Western horse is the quality of the pace. These paces are called the jog and the lope, and are essentially a shorter-stride version of the trot and the canter.

One specialized move is the Western spin. Performed at full-speed, the horse will pivot smoothly on the inner hind leg. All the moves that Western horses are taught were originally developed for working with cattle. Cutting horses are the standard for horses that perform real work on cattle ranches. However, the Quarter horse is the superior example of Western show class competitions.

A Western saddle is made with a horn at the front—also called a pommel—which can carry a looped rope, or can affix a rope when the rider is lassoing cattle. Western horses use a curb-bridle or a bit-less bridle, and the saddles are made with long stirrup leathers to allow the riders to use a straight-leg position.

Read the next horse riding tips article on Jumping Basics.
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The Right Saddle for Cutting or Reining

For cutting and reining horse events, you definitely need a saddle that’s designed to help you "ride in balance and sit the stop." First, you want a saddle that was designed and built specifically for reining or cutting. Both of these designs have their individual advantages but remember, just because the manufacturer "calls" it a reining saddle doesn’t mean it was designed "well" for reining.

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