Learning to ride a horse western-style opens up a whole new
world of possibilities. Instead of trotting around a ring
and jumping fences, the western rider can discover the joys
of roping, barrel racing and trail riding.
- Take lessons. It is important to get instruction on proper riding technique from a trained professional.
- Wear jeans or long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, riding boots or hard-soled shoes, and a helmet.
- Get a western saddle. A western saddle is larger than an English saddle, covers more of the horse and therefore provides more security. The western saddle comes down lower on the sides of the horse, goes farther down the back and has a pommel, or horn, in front to hold onto.
- Use a strap called a cinch to hold the saddle in place on the horse's back.
- Fit your horse with a bridle. The bridle has a headstall that fits over the horse's head and a bit that sits in the horse's mouth to help the rider control the horse.
- Choose one of two western-style reins for your horse: split reins or romel reins. Split reins are two separate reins, one held in each hand; the romel is two reins attached to each side of the bit and then wrapped together so you only hold one thick rein in one hand.
- You can ride any breed of horse western-style. (Arabians, however, require special saddles designed to specifically fit them.)
- Wear cowboy boots or a riding boot with a small heel to help hold your foot in the stirrup without getting stuck.
- When riding, always wear long pants - preferably jeans - as they will protect your legs in case of a fall.
- Wear a helmet while riding. One blow to the head can be very serious - even deadly.