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Dear EHH: My Dream Horse Is Wearing the Wrong Kind of Saddle
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Dear EHH: My Dream Horse Is Wearing the Wrong Kind of Saddle

Dear EHH Horsemanship,

I have been horse shopping. I have seen a whole bunch. I've reviewed my list of non-negotiables and have had the horses evaluated by my instructor. I think I have found the one that I really want. My plan is to just ride for pleasure on the trails and in the ring. The only thing is this horse has only ever been ridden in a western saddle and I ride English. Should this be a deal breaker?

Dear Horse Shopper,

Sounds like you are doing everything right when it comes to horse shopping, which is refreshing! It is glad to see someone who is shopping for horses and not being impulsive.

If you have tried out the horse and were able to ride it successfully, then I would not think it would be an issue for you.

Some western pleasure horses and reining type horses are trained differently than our English horses, which makes it hard for us to ride them. They just don't respond to the same cues that we are used to giving.

A highly trained western pleasure horse may be spur trained. This is way different than what us English riders are used to. Another thing that you see frequently that could be an issue is that they haven't been ridden with contact. Not that the horse couldn't be trained to accept contact; it most certainly could. You just need to keep in mind that horse will need some schooling before you are speaking the same language.

If you are looking for a horse that is ready for you to just jump on and ride, that is perfectly fine. I recommend that you get on that western horse and ride it just the way you normally ride, whether it be in the western saddle or English.

If the horse understands your cues and you feel as if you are speaking the same language, that is great news! This western horse will easily transition to your English riding style. He has proven he already knows what your cues mean!

If you feel safe on the horse and can ride it successfully, that is the most important thing! The shape of the saddle you sit on really doesn't matter as long as you and the horse get along well.

Good Luck With Your New Horse,

Ellison Hartley

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  1. Michelle Cerone
    Maybe give western a shot? I’m thinking about making the switch with my Hanoverian. ????
  2. Ellison Hartley
    Ellison Hartley
    I think it is always fun to try new things with our horses! It doesn't have to be a permanent switch! Spicing things up for a while is always a good thing!

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