Hannah Watros, Contributor

Horseback riding is an extremely broad term to people in the horse world but to normal people it seems like a pretty basic definition. To a non-horse person, horseback riding is probably just summed up by getting on a horse and just sitting there while it walks around. To people in the horse industry, it doesn’t mean anything when someone says they ride horses. Horse people want details of what style, what discipline, what kind of horse, what brand tack. There is so much more than just looking pretty. The rider and the horse work together as a team no matter how or what you ride which ultimately brings all horse people together. 

To start off, there are two styles of riding which is English and Western. Each is designed for a specific purpose. In English, the rider makes direct contact to the horse’s mouth by using the reins. That controls speed and direction. In Western, the rider uses their weight and seat to control the horse and neck reins so they have little contact with the mouth. The obvious difference between Western and English riding is the saddle that is used. Western saddles have a horn which was originally meant for cowboys to wrap ropes around. The Western saddle is more comfortable and is meant for riding in for extended periods of time. The English saddle is designed to be lighter and smaller. It is meant to have more contact with the horses back.  

What can be confusing to people that are not involved in the horse industry is the different disciplines. Western and English both have their own types of competitions and events. In the English world, some popular competitions are eventing, dressage, and show jumping. Dressage is meant to show the horses natural athletic ability. Show Jumping is divided into three different classes but to sum it up, it is judging the horses jumping ability. Eventing is a combination of dressage, jumping and cross-country riding and is a timed event. Some popular competitions in the Western world are reining, barrel racing and Gymkhana. Reining is the western version of dressage. Barrel racing is a timed event that judges speed and balance. Gymkhana is timed obstacles that can be performed as individuals or teams.   

To the outside world, horseback riding may not seem that detailed but once an outsider learns more about it they see how ginormous it actually is.