The English style of horseback riding originated in England and was brought to the United States in the early 1800’s. It is known as the traditional or proper way to ride a horse, and it is practiced worldwide.
The three basic gaits of the English horse are the walk, trot, and canter. A common practice when riding English style is to post to the trot which means to rise out of the saddle seat in rhythm with the horses stride.
An important part of English riding is the communication between horse and rider. English riding involves a form of communication between the horse and rider through the use of legs, hands, and seat commonly referred to as aids. Body posture and position known as Equitation is very important in English riding. English horses move freely, with energy, a long stride, and a higher head carriage. The rider’s body moves as freely and in cadence with the horse’s movement.
English saddles are small and lightweight, with a flat seat and metal stirrups. This type of saddle allows freer movement of the horse’s shoulders; allowing the horse to move freely and the rider to have closer contact with the horse.
Riders maintain light contact with the horse’s mouth through the use of the bit and reins. English reins are one piece and held with two hands. The English bridle commonly uses a type of snaffle bit. Double bridles are often used in advanced English riding and require the use of two sets of reins and two bits; a snaffle and a curb.
English riding attire typically consists of a helmet, jacket, high top riding boots and a style of form fitting pants called breeches.
English horses are known as Sport Horses in the horse show world and compete in Olympic events such as Dressage and Jumping.
English riding is elegant and graceful. Riders who excel in this style of riding use a combination of posture, cadence, and communication to move as one with the horse.