Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coffee, Tea or Milk

A recollection of my first rides were being lifted up into a Western saddle.  I was instructed to hang onto the horn whether I was led around or rode in front of some generous rider, probably worn out from my running along next to them begging for a ride.

When I was older we rode bareback.  At 20- we didn't want to take the time to saddle our horses.  We were young and had no fear, or at least much less then I do at 50+.  We rode bareback with hackamores.  We even rode bareback with halters, which accounted for my second broken arm at age 11. 

During those younger years, I tried English while caring for my friend's horses.  It looked interesting so I thought I'd give it a try.  Once I figured out how it worked and got on (it was ugly), I found it comfortable but missed the security of the Western horn in front of me.  This and the fact that I wasn't exposed to any other English saddles left Western as my beverage of choice.

Our Daughter was started in English when she took lessons, eventually moving to Western later.  She has always preferred her beverage to be English and to use two hands when riding.  And indeed when she was showing Champ it was their strongest discipline.

It seems the horse shows I've attended have had a larger turnout for Western then English.  Yet where Champ is boarded the majority of riders prefer English and Dressage and there aren't many of us Western riders (although our numbers have recently been increasing).

I'm curious.  What is (or was) the beverage of your choice?

Did you start with one beverage and then change to another when you got older?  If so, why and what obstacles did you encounter?

Have you ever considered changing?

Daughter's English saddle sits in our tackroom along with the bridle, saddle pads, etc.  I've found a leather strap online that fastens to the front of an English saddle - surely for security if one needs to 'grab leather'.  Comforting to know.  It may not be 2010's goal but surely one I'll want to experience.  How about you?


  1. I started out riding bareback as a child. Dad wouldn't let me have a saddle until I'd learned to ride without one. At the time I was upset -- now I see what a great advantage it gave me. The first saddle I ever sat in was an old beat-up Weestern saddle; mostly it collected dust in the barn. After leaving home I didn't ride for about 5 years. I couldn't afford a horse of my own, so I ended up half-leasing an Appy/TB mare whose owner rode English. So I started English lessons. Initially the focus was 3-day eventing. Now (at 40) my focus is dressage, though I still enjoy popping on bareback every now and again.

  2. I think your Dad was wise. From my recollection, when we rode bareback we had amazing balance and when we did ride with saddles we had great seats but actually preferred bareback. Plus if you fall bareback, you fall much cleaner.

    Good for you for finding an economical way to ride by half-leasing! With the right person and horse it can be a win-win experience.

    Some of the exercises I've done in lessons this past year were based on Dressage. I think it's a beautiful discipline and my pals that ride it at the barn are hot on my heals to try it. Another goal to add to my list. :)

  3. We rode bareback as a kid. I think it was a time thing. We didn't live on the farm and were only there long enough for Dad to feed the cattle. So riding was rushed. It was fun when he would saddle her up for us, but a rare occasion. I realized when we got back into horses this past decade that I was VERY young when we actually had horses at home - probably under age 6 or 7. As I grew up, like you, I would beg the neighbor girl to give me rides & but I never had lessons until recently.

    I bought an english saddle at an auction. Saddled up the kid's old mare - and off I went. Feeling pretty cool until she stepped in a hole, fell on one knee & I went sliding down her neck!

    I now have a little dressage saddle I'll occasionly put on my mare. It's fun to get a different feel & my mare looks so good english. Western, however, is my preference.

  4. I think a lot of dads are afraid their little girls will get a foot caught in a stirrup and be dragged. My dad also made me ride bareback until he was confident I could ride well enough to stay in a saddle. He finally bought me a western saddle at Sears, but it was promptly stolen. So I was back to bareback all the time. We hung out at the pasture all day and hopped on our ponies and horses bareback to ride to the store and load up on candy, then back to the pasture where we lounged on bales of straw and gorged on candy.

    Then in high school I was introduced to English riding while living in Indonesia. A Horse Named Wati

    I rode English and showed English Pleasure and Amateur Hunters for 10 years, then the long horse drought began.

    As a 50+ rider still regaining my confidence, I am riding western. My young mare doesn't neck rain yet so I'm using two hands with mecate reins. My intent was to move back to English when I'm comfortable and my mare is no longer green, but I'm really enjoying western now and since I mostly want to trail ride, I think I'm going to stick with western. Plus I'm getting in tune with my inner wannabe cowgirl. I'm wearing cowgirl boots and wild rags now.

  5. I have always preferred Western to English. English looks really cool, the way that rider and horse perform, but I do not believe I would be comfortable. Like you, I need that horn for security! LOL

  6. We rode bareback or with a bareback pad when we were younger, if we wanted a saddle we had to do it ourselves, Mom wouldnt do it for us.

    I learned Huntseat in 4-H and loved riding either when I was younger. I havnt rode Huntseat in years now thought. I still have all the saddles and equipment for two girls though, I made them both ride Western and Huntseat in 4-H, so they had a better rounded education when it came to riding disciplines.
    You have to be in pretty good shape to ride Huntseat properly, and it also gets you in shape.Talk about riding with your legs.

    Now I just ride Western, I have balance problems now and other issues from medical problems so it is a safer choice now.

    I am enjoying your blog, thanks to Julie Thorson :0) keep up the great posts. I am not 50 yet but have a lot of challages to ride now.

  7. I started out riding bareback because we couldn't afford a saddle. Later I rode Western. When I was seventeen I took a year of Dressage lessons. I don't really have a preference now. If trail riding I'll take a Western saddle any day, but in the arena or if I decided to show I'd want a dressage saddle. :) I like an even mix.

  8. I hope it's okay if a 60+ horse owner/rider joins this blog. I certainly don't feel that old but the calendar says that I am!

    I ride in a Western saddle. I used to show in Western Pleasure classes and Trail classes, but I also did some competitive trail riding using an English saddle. The less weight was important in that sport. I eventually sold that saddle and bought a custom fitted competitive trail saddle for my horse.

    Unfortunately, that saddle didn't fit the horse I presently own and caused him some bucking fits before I figured out it was too small for him. Even though he is now 14, he still gets excited sometimes and I find a Western saddle, with a "sticky" seat pad and wearing chaps, make me feel secure. He "out of the blue" started bucking about 3 strides while I was riding yesterday for no apparent reason until I figured out that after balking when I asked him to walk down a certain trail he accidently backed into the electric fence. I stayed on and he definitely made it down the trail!! After looping around and starting down the same trail again, he had no problems keeping his feet moving!!

  9. Welcome and thanks for joining! You have GRIT (one of my highest compliments). You stayed on and rode back through it. Good job!!

  10. I ride both disciplines, pretty regularly. I have a fairly intense little reining-bred mare (own daughter of Chocolate Chic Olena) and we school in both Western and English tack. Still haven't gotten to the point where I'll do rollbacks on her in English tack--she's fast and strong, and I'm pulling leather in the Western saddle.

    I like different tack for different things, and going back to the English saddle and snaffle helps me keep her tuned up and responsive.

  11. As a kid I rode both english and western, as well as bare back, now adays its western !when ever I get the chance . I had my own pony at 12 years old for quite a few years, also rode my sisters horses until we moved far away !