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Western Tack vs. English Tack: Which Is Best for You?

Western Tack vs. English Tack: Which Is Best for You?

August 29, 2018

One of the questions we frequently get asked at our tack shop is whether English tack or western tack in Montana is the better option, or if one style of riding is easier than the other.

Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences in the styles of equipment and riding to help you better understand your options.

The equipment

You’ll find that the equipment can vary greatly in western and English riding. English riding tends to have smaller and lighter saddles, versus the larger saddles used in western riding. In addition, western saddles tend to have a more comfortable, plush seat.

The smaller, lighter English saddles allow riders to get closer to their horse and feel every movement the horse makes, which can be beneficial for getting a deeper understanding of the horse’s actions and predicting its movements. The larger, heavier western saddles offer more comfort and stability for longer rides on rougher types of terrain. They are also more likely to have extra utility items, such as the saddle horn designed to hold a cowboy’s ropes.

Saddle horns are not necessarily strictly limited to western saddles, but they are certainly more common on them.The bits and reins also vary between the two styles. In English equipment, bits are usually either the Weymouth bridle or the Pelham bit. This type of bridle features a snaffle bit and curb bit with a headstall for each of them. The western style, however, can use curb bits, snaffle bits or hackamores.

In addition, in English riding there is a double set of reins, versus the split reins that are found in western riding.

Styles of riding

The main difference between western and English riding is that in English riding, the rider has direct contact with the horse’s mouth using the reins, and uses the reins as part of the “aids” (in addition to the leg and seat) for speed and direction. Compare this to western riding, in which horses have little or no contact and the rider uses the weight, seat and neck reins to give aids to the horse.

The position of the rider, however, is very similar in both western and English riding. The rider should position himself or herself in a tall, straight manner, not leaning forward or backward. His or her legs should hang along one side of the horse, and the arms should be in a relaxed position against the rider’s sides. You don’t want to have your elbows flapping around.

English riders have a rein in each hand, but western riders take both reins in a single hand, allowing theother hand to fall naturally at their side or lie on top of their thighs.

These are just a few of the biggest differences between English and western tack and riding styles. For more information about the differences in these riding disciplines, we encourage you
to contact the experts at Down Home Tack & Feed LLC today—we sell both western tack and English tack in Montana!

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