How to Ride Western-Style

Western riding evolved in North America from the need to spend hours, even days, in the saddle working on cattle ranches. Clothing was meant to be comfortable and durable. The saddle was built of strong leather and designed for rider’s comfort and the practicalities of the work. Today, Western-style riding includes trail riding, show classes such as pleasure and reining, and competitions such as barrel racing, pole bending and rodeo.

Western saddlery

The Western saddlery is noticeably different from English, especially the saddle. The western tack or  saddle has a prominent front (pommel) with a horn for carrying a rope or for fixing the rope when lassoing cattle, a deep seat, a high cantle (back), and long stirrup leathers that encourage a straight leg position. A curb-bridle or bitless bridle is used.

Ride Western-Style

Use of the reins

In Western riding, the reins are usually held in one hand only and there is a considerable amount of slack in the reins, which is not seen in the English style.


The quality of the pace is central to the training of the Western horse. The paces are the jog and the lope, which are the trot and the canter with a shorter stride.

  • To achieve the jog or lope, place the reins in your less dominant hand, have your legs straight in the saddle, and use your weight to move forward while applying some leg pressure.
  • To turn left, apply pressure to the right side while keeping your left leg loose. With the reins in one hand, pull them left across the neck.
  • To turn your horse to the right, apply pressure to the outside left leg to encourage the horse to move away from the pressure and with your reins in the one hand, pull them across the neck toward the right.

Ride Western-Style

Western moves

Moves made with a Western horse can be a little different from those taught to English-trained horses. The Western competitive horse is taught to perform a roll-back and reining, where the horse slides to a stop. More advanced moves include the Western spin, where at full speed the horse pivots on the inside hind leg, and the sliding stop, where the horse’s hindquarters are lowered to an almost sitting position and the front legs remain loose.

Filed Under: Arts & Entertainment


About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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