Anyone who knows me or who has been following my blog knows that I have a distinct favoritism for western riding. I like the clothing I wear while riding western, the style of the saddle and even the fact that I can ride well with one hand on the reins. That being said English style riding is an important aspect of competitive horseback riding events. Today I want to introduce you to the English riding style and tell you a little about how these events work.
What is English Riding Style?
English riding is a style of horseback riding that is recognized around the world. It features a flatter style of saddle that is designed to give the horse more freedom of movement. The clothing worn in an English style riding event has a more formal look than the western style. Jodhpurs or breeches, boots, a shirt with a tie, a jacket and a cap or hat comprise the English outfit. English riders always ride with a rein in each hand. The style of riding requires the rider to rise and sit in rhythm to the gait of the horse. All Olympic riding events feature English riding.
Types of English Riding Events?
- Jumping– This event is the one that is most recognizable to people, horse enthusiasts or not. Using either an obstacle course or an arena type setting, riders jump their horses over varying heights. Obstacles can be anywhere from 18 inches to six feet or taller. Jumping is one of the most difficult and heart-stopping English riding events. It requires an intense relationship between horse and rider. There is a high rate of accidents in jumping events so this type of competition is not for the faint of heart. Jumping is a very popular Olympic event.
- Hunt Seat– This event can be performed either on flat ground or with fences and is another common Olympic event. It involves forward seat riding, where the rider’s head and shoulders lean forward on the horse allowing for a cleaner jump. Hunt seat is based on the old English tradition of fox hunting.
- Dressage-The word dressage comes from the French word for training. It is an excellent horseback riding event for the beginner. The natural athleticism of a horse is highlighted in dressage events. The ability of the horse and rider to work together is of the utmost importance. A calm horse who is attentive to his rider will be very successful in dressage events.
- Eventing-A three day event that includes three different English riding events: show jumping, dressage and cross-country jumping. Scoring is based on a cumulative score from all three days. Eventing allows a horse and rider to participate and show their skill in a variety of competitions.
Regardless of the type of riding you enjoy, you should check out a few English style riding events. They are fun to watch and have a somewhat elegant look to them. The style of riding, the English inspired clothing and even the venues used add to this elegance. Each event requires a skilled horse and rider to work together, as do any riding competitions. Now that you have a little information I hope you will investigate further and I will bet you will find it an enjoyable experience. After all, if it involves a horse it has to be great!!