Horse Riding Western:
Why Beginner Riders May Prefer to Start Out This Way

Horse riding western style is a great way to start off because of the saddle’s larger cantle (back part), deeper seat, and horn (in front). This can help you to feel more secure.

If the animal you are riding is trained correctly for western, you should hold the reins in only one hand. That leaves one hand free, which is great to hang onto the horn of the saddle for stability.

  • This is helpful when you aren’t quite as balanced in the saddle as you would like to be.

You Still Need Your Basics No Matter What Style You Ride

Whether you are horseback riding English or Western style you’ll still need to know your horse riding basics.

  • Horse riding lessons can teach you more in depth how to ride this style.

Although on the surface the two disciplines look very different, they aren’t so much except in the sports you would compete in. You have to be a balanced, centered rider to succeed in either discipline.

What is a Western Way of Going?

The horses’ way of going is different when horse riding western than in English, especially in the show ring.

His head is to be kept low, and the gaits are much slower. The western trot is called a jog, and the western canter is called a lope. Western riders are taught to always sit the jog, and not to rise (post).

Neck Reining

Now a bit about holding the reins cowboy style;

The reins are traditionally held in the left hand and the horse is trained to go with minimal contact (some slack in the reins) on the bit. The steed is trained to neck rein which means the rider holds both reins in one hand just above the saddle horn. 

The animal moves away from the pressure of the rein on his neck. For a right turn the left rein would push slightly against the neck.

Note that the seat and legs should give most of cues to the horse.

In contrast, if you ride English you always hold the reins in two hands with a steady feel on the horses’ mouth through the bit.

  • Holding the reins in two hands can be more difficult for a novice rider who is still unbalanced in the saddle.

Turn on over from horse riding western to the main page where you'll find many more informative articles on riding and training