Different Styles of Horse Riding

If you’ve decided you want to try horseback riding, you’re well on your way to having an unforgettable experience.

horse riding styles

Your age doesn’t matter and you do not need to have any prior knowledge; anyone and everyone can enjoy taking a ride on a horse. Not only is horse riding fun, it is also considered therapeutic as well as a healthy form of exercise.

Before putting your foot in the stirrup, it’s important to know what kind of stirrup you want to put your foot in; below are some of the most popular styles of horse riding.


English riding, Trot

English riding, Trot (Flickr.com)

No, this time “English” does not mean British, although that is where this style of riding originated.

Most people might associate the term “English riding” with Mr. Darcy riding across the countryside or perhaps even a group of riders galloping after the hounds in an exciting foxhunt.

While one of the most distinguishing features of English riding is the saddle, which doesn’t have a horn, today there are a variety of different English disciplines.

Dressage, eventing, hunters, and show jumping are all English disciplines, but they are very different from one another.


Barrel racing

Barrel racing—Jami Dwyer (Flickr.com)

If you’ve ever watched a John Wayne movie, you’ve witnessed the western style of riding. Just like English, western riding also offers numerous different disciplines. With sub-disciplines like western pleasure, reining, cutting, and barrel racing, western riding is anything but boring.

Since it originated out west when ranchers were using horses to move their cattle, several western disciplines such as roping, reining, and cutting require horses and riders to perform skills and movements that would help control a herd of cattle.


Endurance riding, Endurance Riders

Endurance riding, Endurance Riders (Flickr.com)

In endurance riding, horses and riders have an opportunity to show off their amazing fitness skills.

Endurance rides consist of anywhere between 25 and 500 mile rides. With endurance, emphasis is put on not only the fitness of a horse, but overall health.

Horses and riders are required to go through certain checkpoints during their ride to ensure that both horse and rider are still in good physical condition. Endurance riding is a great way to get a lot of time in the saddle.


Saddleseat horse riding

Saddleseat (Flickr.com)

While saddleseat is sometimes considered a form of English riding, it’s a unique discipline that deserves its own category.

The discipline is designed to show off the high trotting tendencies of the elegant Saddlebred horse. Saddleseat is also a very showy discipline and the way a horse goes and behaves is of utmost importance for saddleseat riders.


Horse racing event

Horse racing event—tpower1978 (Flickr.com)

One of the most thrilling disciplines, horse racing is not for the faint of heart.

Exercise riders, the riders responsible for the daily riding of racehorses, have to be fantastic, experienced riders, but also fearless. Young racehorses are often excitable and hard to handle for an inexperienced rider.

Jockeys, those who ride in races, have to be extraordinarily fit both mentally and physically. While racing is a hard discipline to get into, it has been called “the sport of kings” as it is one of the richest sports in the world.

When it comes to horses, it doesn’t matter what style of riding you choose, you’ll still be enjoying one of the greatest animals and sports on Earth.

Useful Resources:
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2 Responses to "Different Styles of Horse Riding"

  1. Frances says:

    I think you missed a style. What about falling-straight-off-and-onto-your-arse style? One go at horseriding was enough to convince me that I’m meant to stay firmly on land and that the only horse I should attempt to ride is attached to a carousel! The photos on your site are lovely. Horses really are beautiful animals!

  2. LJ Neuen II says:

    What kind of riding is it where the horse kicks it front hooves out the side n riding is so steady that u can hold a glass of champagne n not spill it?

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