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USA Riding Holiday & Western Trail Riding

Marble Mountain Ranch Riding

As a novice rider or as an English rider visiting our USA riding centre, you may wonder what to expect from your USA riding holiday. The good news is that any English rider will easily transition to Western tack and the Western riding style, (good horsemanship works in all disciplines). A novice rider will also find the Western horse riding style, with it’s more secure and comfortable seat, to be an easier introduction to riding. While English riding has evolved to fit the demands of recreational and competitive horse showing, Western riding preserves its roots in the functional roles of the horse in ranch and military applications.

Western Tack Evolved From Functional Needs Of Horse And Rider

Marble Mountain Ranch Riding

Much of the current Western tack was developed in a ranch setting by 18th century Spanish Vaqueros who worked long hours on horseback. In both the military and ranch settings the horse needed to carry the rider and all the tools needed for the cowboy or cavalry’s job. For the cowboy or vaquero, the horse also carried bedrolls, canteens, lariats, scabbards and rifles, and saddlebags filled with the supplies and personal effects needed for overnight trips out from a ranch base. The military rider may have also had to carry armor and additional weapons of war. All of these accoutrements necessitated a much broader based saddle to distribute the weight of rider and cargo, plus additional saddle pieces to protect the horse from being injured by abrasion from the attached cargo while on the trail.

Western Trail Riding Traditions

Marble Mountain Ranch Riding

Continued Reliance On Comfort And Function

The modern Western Saddle has a large sturdy tree to support heavier loads, a front horn for dallying a rope around during the roping of cattle, a deeper comfortable seat with raised cantle for long hours in the saddle, and wide stirrup fenders for to protecting the horse from abrasion. The Western stirrup is wide and roomy to allow quick foot extraction by the rider during speedy dismounts that are frequent in equestrian work settings. The stirrup fenders are also adjusted longer in a Western saddle to allow the rider to fully extend his leg during the extended trail rides.

Traditional Western Riding Cues Are Based On Single Hand Neck Reining

Marble Mountain Ranch Riding

The traditions of the working Western or military horse imply that the rider is active in some sort of task. Single-handed neck reining evolved as a necessity to permit the rider to steer the horse while tossing a lariat, swinging a sword, aiming a firearm, or simply opening a pasture gate while in the saddle. While neck reining, the rider can cue the horse to the turn by single handedly putting pressure on the neck with the reign and adding secondary cues with heel pressure to the flank of the horse. Wider Western stirrup fenders then necessitated the development of the spur, to allow the cowboy to easily reach the horse with his heel in offering these additional riding cues. By contrast, the English saddle and tack has evolved to a minimalist set of tools. The English saddle is as light and as small as possible. It places the rider in much closer contact with the horse to better allow the subtle seat, leg, foot, and bit communication cues between horse and rider. For a novice rider, this smaller English saddle might seem to be a more precarious ride than the Western saddle with its deeper more secure seat.

Western Trail Riding Requires Good Communication Between Horse And Rider.

Marble Mountain Ranch Riding

The tradition of the working Western horse also changes how a horse tends to collect and carry it’s self. The horse that shows well in English will carry a much more elevated head as opposed to a sure footed Western trail horse that will keep it’s head lower while watching for good foot placement through difficult trail obstacles. The savvy Western trail horse will also cut wide around trees or obstacles because it has learned of the additional clearance it needs for it’s bulkier cargo. In your Western riding at the Marble Mountain Ranch riding centre, our trail courses will provide you with opportunities to ride through an ever changing mix of real world trail obstacles. The pleasure and challenge of this style of “mountain gymkhana” is not so much in galloping through the forest at faster gates, but in the communication between horse and rider while successfully negotiating a variety of challenging trail conditions. All of this is done in a spectacular wilderness setting, with trail appropriate gates, and with horses familiar with working in natural settings.

Horse Back Trail Riding With Natural Obstacles

Marble Mountain Ranch Riding

With traditional Western trail riding, we prefer to ride prepared for the naturally occurring obstacles we find on the trail. One variation to our tack is to ride with a halter and lead rope in place to facilitate leading horses around obstacles or to tether the horse while on the trail. One of our preferred systems is to ride with the Amish made tack – combination bridle and halter that allows dual functions of haltering and reigning.

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