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Saddles

A comparison of the English saddle to the Western saddle

When reading/writing a Georgian era hist rom, how much attention do you pay to the characters' riding seat and tack?


Historically, Western is based on a working lifestyle, while English is based on riding sport and leisure.


The English saddle and riding style originated during the Georgian era, adapted from mounted military, specifically for foxhunting. Both saddle and style are designed to maintain close contact between horse and rider for communication, ride at high speeds, and jump obstacles (fences, ditches, etc). The saddle is small and light, the rider responsible for balance and coordination via posture and leg position. Riders use two hands on the reins for control.


The Western saddle and style originated in the 1600s, predominately in Mexico, for those who rode for their livelihood, herding, handling, roping, cattle driving, etc. Both saddle and style originated for practicality and comfort since riders would be on their horse all day over rough terrain. The saddle is large, heavy, and broad, designed to distribute the rider’s weight evenly across the horse's back. An important feature is the front horn for wrapping a rope and resting hand. Riders use only one hand on the reins, controlling the horse via neck reining.


Both Western and English styles enjoy riding sports but of a different nature, Western for barrel racing, herding, roping, mounted shooting, etc., and English for polo, foxhunting, dressage, jumping, etc.


For a crash course in the history of the English saddle, check out this post:


State Line Tack: The History of the English Saddle


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