Western Riding

Western riding in North America originated from the Spanish conquistadors in the 17th Century. As the conquistadors traveled to what is now Texas and California, this style of riding began to spread across the continent.

Both equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West. American cowboys needed to work long hours in the saddle over rough terrain, sometimes needing to rope cattle with a lariat (or lasso). Because of the necessity to control the horse with one hand and use a lariat with the other, western horses were trained to neck rein, that is, to change direction with light pressure of a rein against the horse's neck. Horses were also trained to exercise a certain degree of independence in using their natural instincts to follow the movements of a cow, thus a riding style developed that emphasized a deep, secure seat, and training methods encouraged a horse to be responsive on very light rein contact.

Though there are significant differences in equipment, there are fewer differences between English and Western riding than appear at first glance. Both styles require riders to have a solid seat, with the hips and shoulders balanced over the feet, with hands independent of the seat so as to avoid jerking the horse in the mouth and interfering with its performance.oth equipment and riding style evolved to meet the working needs of the cowboy in the American West. American cowboys needed to work long hours in the saddle over rough terrain, sometimes needing to rope cattle with a lariat (or lasso). Because of the necessity to control the horse with one hand and use a lariat with the other, western horses were trained to neck rein, that is, to change direction with light pressure of a rein against the horse's neck. Horses were also trained to exercise a certain degree of independence in using their natural instincts to follow the movements of a cow, thus a riding style developed that emphasized a deep, secure seat, and training methods encouraged a horse to be responsive on very light rein contact.

From these beginnings, the modern competitive Western events of cutting, reining, speed events, and general performance divisions have developed. The popularity of Western riding has grown tremendously during recent years and Western riding enthusiasts can now be found worldwide.

The Exhilaration of Barrel Racing

Barrel Racing tests the speed, accuracy, and control of the horse and rider. The horse and rider must complete a triangle of 3 barrels set at measured distances as quickly and as error-free as possible. The barrels are negotiated in a clover-leaf pattern. The tightest possible turns must be made around the barrels while maintaining and controlling the speed.

Penalties are assessed if a barrel is knocked over by adding a set amount of seconds to the pair’s final time. Going off-course or off the pattern results in disqualification. The horse and rider pair with the fastest time wins.

The Intuitiveness of Cutting

Cutting tests the instinct, intelligence, and agility of the horse and the judgment and training provided by the rider. The pair must select a calf from a herd of cattle, isolate it, and prevent it from returning to the herd. A time is allotted; more than one calf can be cut in a contest, but only one calf at a time.

The cutting horse’s “cow sense” is its instinct and ability to match the calf’s movement. This is scored by a judge along with factors such as the challenge of the calf selected and any errors made by the horse/rider.

The Excitement of Reining

A judged event designed to show the athletic ability of a Western type horse in a show arena. In Reining, competitors are required to run one of several approved patterns. Each pattern includes small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs, 360 degree spins done in place, backups and exciting sliding stops.

The Relaxation of Western Pleasure

A Western style of competition that evaluated horses on manners and the suitability of the horse for a relaxed by collected gait of cadence and relatively slow speed of gait, along with calm and responsive disposition.

Western Dressage

Western Dressage integrates the historically validated principles of Dressage with the best of Western Working Horse tradition.  It is a systematic and progressive system of training for the Western horse and rider, in the traditional stock tack with the purpose of enjoying a safe, pleasurable, versatile and useful working horse.

 

 

 

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