Ashley Hewitt, a trained paralegal and accomplished educator in South Carolina (SC), pursues a variety of active hobbies. An equestrienne since childhood, Ashley Hewitt of SC enjoys both English and Western riding.
English and Western riding differ primarily in the tack, or equipment, that the rider uses. The Western saddle is heavier and larger, so as to provide stability as well as comfort over extended periods of riding. The size of the saddle helps to spread the rider’s weigh across the back of the horse, so that the rider can remain stable and secure as he or she rides over varied terrain.
The English saddle, by contrast, is designed to interfere as little as possible with the horse’s movements. Small and built to be as light as possible, it allows the rider to feel the horse through the seat. This in turn enables the rider to communicate desired speed and direction through movements of his or her lower body.
The reins of an English rider also provide more contact and communication with the horse. Unlike a Western rider, who primarily uses weight as well as neck-reining to direct the animal, the English rider uses the reins as a means of signaling the horse.
Despite their differences, however, both styles of riding require an upright posture and the ability to move in harmony with the horse. Arms and legs should be relaxed, and the rider must remember to keep control at all times.