Skip to main content

Free Shipping Over Use Promo Code Ends

Western vs. English Riding – Key Differences

Western vs. English Riding – Key Differences

Apr 3rd 2023

For anyone who has been around horses, whether riding out on the range or in a professional show ring, you know there are two distinct schools of thought regarding horseback riding: Western and English. But what exactly is the difference between these two types of horsemanship?

You'll soon be able to tell whether someone is a real western wrangler or an elegant equestrian from great distances away (or just from looking at their hat!). So if you're interested in learning more about western and english riding, read on!

Western vs. English Riding

Horse riding is a popular hobby for many, and two popular styles are western and english riding. While western riding often utilized some form of a western saddle, english riding requires an english saddle. The English saddle stands out among other riding saddles, with flaps that come in all shapes and sizes to suit different leg positions depending on the discipline of horse riding. The western saddle has a padded seat, higher horn, and stirrups with wider treads to help the rider stay secure and balanced while taking on challenging terrain—important when jumping or roping.

English and western riding styles are like two sides of the same coin: similar in their function but different in execution. Beyond the required saddles, western and english riding also differ in terms of their respective rein-handling methods. In English style, riders take reins with both hands and sit more upright; while Western riders keep one hand free to better control speed or direction—not to mention they often have a slightly angled seat.

Thus, if you are considering western or english riding, it is important to be aware of these differences so that you can choose the right fit for you and your horse!

What Equipment is Needed for Each Type of Riding

Whether you're a beginner deciding which style of riding to pursue, or an experienced horseback rider, it's essential to know what type of equipment is necessary for western and english riding. With western riding, a western saddle and bridle are required. For English riding, an English saddle is needed. This type of saddle allows the rider to have close contact with their horse; it lacks thick padding like western saddles have to make it more comfortable for the horse’s back during long-distance rides.

The reins are typically held in one hand when riding English style as well. Both western and English riding require safety helmets for obvious safety reasons. So if you want to take up either western or English riding, make sure that you get all the necessary equipment first.

Related Article: Horse Care 101

Pros & Cons of Each Riding Style

When it comes to western and english riding, a few key differences can affect how to approach the riding style. While western riding may offer the rider more comfort and control, English requires practice and formality, which allows riders to display their skills in competition events better.

Both western and english riding have their own pros and cons, as well as what works best for each individual, so understanding both styles should help you decide which is right for you.

Related Article: Proper Spur Use for Happy Horseback Riding


Overall, western and english riding have key differences in their approaches, equipment needs, and pros & cons. It is important to know what to expect and the type of ride best suited for you. Now that we've discussed the nuances between the two types of riding, perhaps you will agree that choosing between English or Western riding largely comes down to personal preference.

If you decide to get some western decor in your home or barn space before taking a ride, don’t forget to check out Lone Star Western Decor! They are sure to have just what you need!