Cowboy Inspiration

Work: day off. Again.

I spent the day at my state’s Horse Fair, a winter festival of lectures, demonstrations, and association booths. I learned:
1) There is a whole parallel western world of which I know nothing.
2) Western riding is looking more and more like dressage: balanced seat, legs underneath the body, legs in contact with the horse, knees and ankles at English angles. Not a lot of Sit Your Pockets anymore.
3) Riders are less likely to fall off a western saddle and western horses are less likely to suffer freak accidents, judging by the lack of helmets.
4) Drill teams are awesome. However, I will not be able to ride in one with a horse this far from the center of the bell curve in height, unless I find a squadron of giraffes.
I was inspired to go back to groundwork exercises with Rodney, mainly by counter-example. I have no use for most of the clinicians I have seen to date, including some Very Big Names, but that is a conversation for another day, in private, over a glass of your favorite amber-colored liquid.

Categories: Barn Life, Groundwork, Horses, Western

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2 replies »

  1. Good on you for keeping an open mind! We’re living reverse lives. I just discovered there’s a whole parallel English universe that I never understood that needs to be explored.

    Some western events are exactly like dressage. I think it has changed a lot and will (hopefully) continue to do so.

    Western saddles are (IMHO) safer. (And now being made for much closer contact, I might add!) I started riding English last summer after a lifetime of riding western. Frankly, I don’t know how you people ever manage to stay on your horses. I mean, there’s nothing helping you stay there. Nothing! One little zig or zag to the side, one drop-to-your-knees, slam-on-the brakes job and it’s all over but the cryin’. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever trail ride my horse in an English saddle … it just seems to darn risky. Heck, who am I kidding? I’m not even close to tacking her up English and riding her in the arena. Nope, not at all. And besides, how would you get back on your horse if you had to dismount on the trail for any reason? I dunno. It just seems kinda nutty. When you think about why western saddles are made the way they are it makes sense. If you’re going to ride a horse who is going to be darting here or there and making sudden speed or severe directional changes wouldn’t you want a little more substance under your butt? The swells are made to help you stay with your horse and they succeed in doing that pretty darn well. Does it still require skill to ride western? You bet! But having a bit of assistance from my gear sure beats the heck out of having broken bones from coming off.

    I’m doing a bunch of groundwork with the Bottle Rocket. (Well, I started, but then this winter weather nonsense wrecked my plans) I know her trainer did tons of it with her before, but I think she needs to know who’s in charge and the “making them move their feet first” thing really does seem to help.

  2. I think lack of helmets is more about tradition than safer rider – just my opinion.

    I do also think that there is something to the western saddle. While I think that the few western saddles I have sat in were designed for men (who simply do not have the same pelvis that I do), I would love to try (a) an American western saddle for women or (b) an Australian stock saddle.

    That said, I was always rock solid in my old Bates All Purpose. Loved that saddle.

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