English horse riding is an elegant riding style that is well known and respected worldwide. This riding style is known for its precision and close connection between rider and horse. It’s a truly “hands on” approach to horseback riding.
What is English Riding?
English riding is a discipline of riding that has many specific styles, but at the most basic level it is more “hands on” than other riding styles. English riding requires riders to use both hands on the reins, as opposed to other styles that use only one hand like western riding. Training is all about teaching the horse through pressure and release. Pressure is what we use to tell the horse what to do. Release is how we show the horse that they have done what was asked correctly.
English riding involves coordination of legs, reins, and balance, which can be difficult to master at first. It also often involves specific techniques like posting (also known as the rising trot) where the rider rises from the saddle in time with the horse’s gait. English riding also uses smaller saddles which are designed to give a rider close contact with the horse’s back.
Communication Vs. Intuition
Horses trained in English tradition are trained to obey, not necessarily to think. They rely on cues from the rider’s legs, feet, crop, or even whip. They are trained to be extremely obedient, with less of a focus on intuition, an important trait in Western horses. At the same time, well-trained English horses are taught intelligent refusal, which is focused on teaching a horse to refuse a dangerous command. This is important for safety of both the horse and the rider.
How can I compete with English riding?
English riding is what most people think of when they think about horseback riding, as it is known world-wide and is the discipline seen at all Olympic equestrian events. There are a bunch of English styles including dressage, hunt seat, saddle seat, and polo. Each has its own unique characteristics, but they all follow the similar English characteristics with equipment, attire, reining, and communications with the horse.
English riding takes many of its traditions and equipment from European mounted military styles over many centuries. English riding attire is similar to the style itself: formal. As opposed to western riding, english riders wear a traditional style ‘hunt cap’ or helmet. A fitted jacket, shirt, jodhpurs or breeches, and jodhpur boots or tall boots.