I started riding western several years ago when I started getting older and felt that western stirrups and fenders gave me more support and security than English stirrups and leathers. I’ve had back-pain issues for ages and my central nervous system is out of whack so I like all the comfort and security I can get!
So that’s why I ride western now.
But when I started riding, as a child, I rode English. I grew up in the South, in a city, so although 3/4 of my ancestors had been farmers, they were not ranchers, and – if they owned any horses at all – I figure they rode in some sort of plantation or English saddle.
So I have a question. And I’m not being critical, I’m just being curious.
Why do so many people who live in America, east of the Mississippi, and not on ranches or even working farms, ride western?
I read one horsemanship book that said western riding is the “American” way to ride. But actually it is traditionally Mexican and Spanish. And historically, most of the Eastern US is not a Hispanic culture. The city folk, the fox hunters, the farmers, did not ride in western saddles. They had no need to. They did not rope cattle, or wild horses. Those who hunted, and steeplechased, jumped – so had an obvious need to not have a horn, and to have stirrups that easily detached from the saddle in case of a fall or a rear that went over backwards.
Where I live now, the majority of horsemen and women ride western, in the Southeastern US. They are not ranchers. They are not Hispanic. So why do they ride western, and have rodeos and barrel races, instead of hunter shows and dressage-combined training shows, the type of riding many more of their ancestors would have done rather than the type of riding traditionally done by the cowboys of the west?
And why do almost all American trail-riding barns offer only western saddles? The idea that they are more “secure” makes no sense in light of the fact that stables in the UK and Europe and Iceland do hacking and trekking in saddles that don’t have horns and bridles that don’t have long-shanked curb bits
I really am just curious. Like I said, I ride western now because I do feel more secure. But when I was younger, and in better shape, I felt more secure in an English saddle, especially when out riding the trails.