Riding Tips

The differences between western riding and the riding that's traditional and established throughout most of Europe, called English, aren't all that significant. After all, horses are horses, and they all respond in the same way. The horse doesn't know whether it's a "western" horse or not. It will either move away from pressure or against it, depending on how it was taught. The most obvious difference with English as compared to western is that the reins are held in one hand only, at least with mature horses.

English Saddles

Learning to ride English style is the starting point for any novice rider. Get an English saddle. Riding in an English saddle teaches the student good balance and control of both body and horse, since there is very little equipment to hold onto.
English saddles are very small: they have no saddle horn, and the stirrups are smaller than those on Western saddles.
Sit tall and ride high. Remember to look up and straight ahead. Stick your chest out, arch your back and keep your eyes up. Also, hands out in front of you, heels down and toes out. Hold the reins in your hands with your thumbs on top and pinkies on the bottom. Hold your hands seven or eight inches apart, low and centered over the horse's neck.

Western Saddles

A western saddle is larger than an English saddle, covers more of the horse and therefore provides more security. The western saddle comes down lower on the sides of the horse, goes farther down the back and has a pommel, or horn, in front to hold onto.
Use a strap called a cinch to hold the saddle in place on the horse's back. Choose one of two western-style reins for your horse: split reins or romel reins. Split reins are two separate reins, one held in each hand; the romel is two reins attached to each side of the bit and then wrapped together so you only hold one thick rein in one hand. Wear cowboy boots or a riding boot with a small heel to help hold your foot in the stirrup without getting stuck.