English riding disciplines, under the category of the more general English style of riding, are basically ones of tradition and refinement and encompass many countries and societies. Of course techniques and equipment are constantly improving. Such English disciplines inlcude: hunting and jumping, cross-county, dressage, driving, and Saddle Seat riding, plus racing and other sports like polo.
Probably the earliest of English riding disciplines began began back when a mounted military was of great advantage. Encorporated into this need were the disciplines of hunt seat and dressage. Of course hunting was a necessity before and beyond military campaigns. And as long as humans have been riding, there surely have been races where it came to be known that weight was important and the racing saddle became smaller and lighter.
English riding discplines have always emphasized blending the rider to and with the movements of the steed, to achieve a particular goal. Traditionally, both hands are on the reins, sometimes two bits are used, and balance of movement is critical. Whether you are galloping through fields and over obstacles, racing, or on the rail at an English show, your movements and balance are of utmost importance and partnered with those of your mount.
ENGLISH ATTIRE, EQUIPMENT, COMPETITION VENUES
The attire and equipment follow traditional standards which have changed little and are based on long standing English traditions within each of the disciplines. The formality, once you understand the reasons for such customs, will be seen as practical and very logical. This is not to say there is no change for the better in both attire and tack, but long held customs are enjoyed and honored.
The competition venues are vast, from local, novice and amateur to international levels. And within each of the disciplines are classes based on the attainment level of the animals, plus classes based on the level of the riders.