English and Western Riding Styles or Disciplines
Horseback Riding Styles, or Disciplines are listed below.
Click on English or Western for individual disciplines, historical and modern day practices, plus photos.
As all who actively ride or are engaged with horses know, there are many riding disciplines, but most all of them fall into a recognized category of either basically English riding, or basically western riding. Then there are a few subsets that are neither really, but are found almost everywhere, and the tack used or the specifics of a class in a show determines if at this moment, we say English or western. So Riding styles are listed below in sections for either English or Western. More
SPECIFIC HORSE RIDING STYLES: (Per Riding Discipline, either English or Western)
English Style Riding Disciplines
Western Style Riding Disciplines
Since 1100 B. C (Iron Age), various horse riding styles, horse riding disciplines and equine sports have been honed through games, races and other competitions, or through the work man needed a horse to do, then competitions based on this skill. Surely there is little doubt that such sport occurred even earlier. The role of horse riding styles has greatly exceeded simply entertainment; at first, it increased excellence in horsemanship that gained great rewards on the battlefield. Societies that could mount large cavalries had an enormous advantage over those less prepared. Sports and competition helped hone the skills of soldiers and generated improvements in equipment and breeding that time after time altered the outcome of history.
Of course not all horse riding disciplines had their origin in military training. Hunting and even competitive jumping, as a riding style, grew from the necessity of hunting. Rodeo began as a way of demonstrating the skills needed on ranches and farms and the necessity of moving and handling food animals. Sports such as horse pulls also came as a way to demonstrate skills needed for survival and the growing of towns and countries. Harness racing began with spontaneous competition between drivers on the roads.
Horse riding styles and their underlying motivation to gain a competitive edge, have given rise to numerous improvements in all the varied riding disciplines through the centuries. Improved tack is streamlined, more effective and better suited to varied tasks. Lighter weight vehicles stem from early chariot racing into the harness racing industry of today. Horse supplies, horse health and care have all improved and continue to do so.
Since it is true that mankind relied greatly on the horse from the time of its domestication (over 6,000 years ago) until the turn of the 20th century, sports and riding disciplines within the overall area of more general horse riding styles, have also provided links with the past and the maintenance of skills which otherwise would have most likely declined or even disappeared. Some equestrian sports span a history of three thousand years.
However, the most notable effect of the various horse sports of the world, is the systematic development of horse breeds, with improvements to the horse in refinement, intelligence, and beauty, coupled with the astounding sophistication of improvement in the communication between man and horse -- a direct result of all forms of equestrian sports and every horse riding style, that has let to very refined riding disciplines for results, be it pleasure or competitive sport.
Styles vs Disciplines:
If we can all agree, there are certainly many and varied riding styles. Such riding styles have developed throughout the world and throughout time periods according to what types of task the horse was needed, and the actual tack used to help man and horse partner to accomplish this task has fallen into either an English or a western category. Within each of the basic riding styles however, there are subsets of riding disciplines.
So there is a more western riding style, that uses western tack (saddles, bridles and other tools) yet within this comes the many, many western riding disciplines, from Western Pleasure to Cutting and Ranch and Cow horse disciplines which have over time acquired basic rules in competition.
Concurrently, there is a more English riding style, that uses English tack (somewhat varied, but still basically English), yet within this broad category there are many varied English riding disciplines, from racing to Saddle Seat to Hunt Seat, etc.