What is the Difference Between English and Western Horseback Riding?

What is the Difference Between English and Western Horseback Riding?

Posted by in Pigeon Forge Stables Blog | December 05, 2013
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Beautiful girl sitting on a horse outdoors against moody skyYou may have heard that there are two major styles of horseback riding: English and Western. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between these two techniques? The folks at Five Oaks Riding Stable, the leaders in Gatlinburg horseback riding, have written up all the information you’ll need to spot the difference between the English and Western traditions.  

Distinct Origins

As you may have guessed, English riding developed in merry old England. This style grew out of the mounted military styles found throughout Europe. In contrast, the Western style takes its name from its origins in the old American West. Cowboys invented a new riding style to help them herd cows while on horseback.

Saddle Size

One of the major differences between the two styles is the type of saddle the horse wears. The English saddle is smaller and lighter, as it was designed to give the rider close contact with the horse. The Western saddle is larger and heavier, so it spreads the rider’s weight over a larger area of the horse’s back. Cowboys needed to distribute their weight more evenly so they could rope cows without being pulled off of their horses.


In addition to the difference in saddle size, English and Western riding styles also use different techniques. English riders direct their horse using reigns which are connected to the horse’s mouth. In the Western style, riders make little or no contact with the horse’s mouth and instead use their weight, seat and neck-reining to navigate.

If you have more questions about horseback riding come on over to Five Oaks Riding Stables. Our knowledgeable staff will be thrilled to teach you anything and everything about horses. Join us for a Gatlinburg horseback riding trip through our 70 acre nature park, where you will see streams, wildlife and stunning views of Mount Leconte. Visit our Photo Gallery to see some of our beautiful horses.


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