English riding is a term used to describe a form of horse riding that is seen throughout the world. There are many variations in English riding, but all feature a flat English saddle without the deep seat, high cantle or saddle horn seen on a Western saddle nor the knee pads seen on an Australian Stock Saddle. Saddles within the various English disciplines are all designed to allow the horse the freedom to move in the optimal manner for a given task, ranging from Classical dressage to horse racing. English bridles also vary in style based on discipline, but most feature some type of cavesson noseband as well as closed reins, buckled together at the ends, that prevent them from dropping on the ground if a rider becomes unseated. Clothing for riders in competition is usually based on traditional needs from which a specific style of riding developed, but most standards require, as a minimum, boots; breeches or jodhpurs; a shirt with some form of tie; a hat, cap, or equestrian helmet; and a jacket.
English riding is an equestrian discipline with many different styles. However, at the most basic level, most versions require riders to use both hands on the reins, rather than just one hand, as is seen in western riding. Riders also frequently "post" to the trot (rising and sitting in rhythm with each stride) in many circumstances, though there are also times English riders may sit the trot.
English riding is promoted in organizations for youth, such as Pony Club, and is the basic style of riding seen in the various events at the Olympics. English saddles are also used by many pleasure riders for everyday riding. The major subdivisions of the English riding genre are:
Forms of competition and exhibition seen throughout the world.
|Dressage||A term meaning training, a form of both training and competition on the flat that emphasizes natural training of the horse to perform calmly and quietly in complete obedience to the rider. A recognized Olympic competition.|
|Show jumping||Competition over fences where scoring is entirely objective. Scoring is based on the time elapsed and on the number of obstacles cleared without knockdowns. A recognized Olympic competition.|
|Eventing||Competition that combines Dressage, cross-country jumping and show jumping, usually held over a three-day period. A recognized Olympic competition.|
|Classical dressage||Dressage as practiced in historic times, with principles and goals similar to competitive dressage, but with different breeds of horses used, additional (and more difficult) haute ecole ("high school") skills developed, and seen today primarily in exhibition, rather than in competition. Primarily associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna and similar programs.|
|Endurance riding||Distance riding competition. While many styles of saddle are used, English saddles are very common at international levels.|
|Polo||A team sport. With the exception of western-style "cowboy polo," Polo utilizes English-style equipment that is adapted for the sport.|
|Polocrosse||Similar to polo with elements of Lacrosse added. Players use either English saddles or Australian equipment originally adapted from English tack.|
|Horse racing||broadly speaking, a riding discipline that uses a very lightweight saddle based on an English design.|
In the United States and Canada, there are two broad categories of English riding: Hunt seat, which is an overall term used in the United States to describe forward seat riding, used both on the flat and over fences. This is the style most commonly associated with the term "English" riding. The other major style is Saddle seat, a discipline created in North America to exhibit flashy, high-stepping breeds of horses. Saddle seat style riding is seldom seen outside North America, though it has a small following in South Africa. In North America, dressage is sometimes loosely lumped into the "hunt seat" category by Saddle Seat and non-English riders, primarily to differentiate it from the Saddle Seat disciplines.
In addition to the international events listed in the previous section, the broad categories of English riding competition seen primarily within the United States and Canada are:
|Show hunter or Hunter||Competition over fences where the horse's form, style and way of going is paramount. Includes Green, Working, and Conformation divisions. May include a "hunter under saddle" section that does not require jumping.|
|English pleasure||classes in the United States on the flat (not to jump) where horses are evaluated on manners and way of going. Seen in both hunt seat and saddle seat disciplines.|
|Show hack||a flat class seen frequently in Canada, and on a more limited basis in the USA, featuring horses of elegant appearance, with an excellent way of going and self-carriage. Dressage tack and attire is usually worn|
|Hunter hack||a hunter-style English pleasure class that combines flat work with a short pattern usually consisting of two jumps and a hand gallop.|
|Equitation||Competition in both hunt seat and saddle seat disciplines where the rider's form and ability to handle the horse is judged. Usually offered for youth riders. Dressage competitions will also occasionally offer an equitation division.|
United Kingdom/Australia/New Zealand
"Show events" or Competition in the UK and Australia, in addition to the international events listed above, include other types of hack, riding, and equipment classes, such as:
|Riding Horse||A flat class for horses between a hack and a hunter in type, and show quality, substance, good bone, correct conformation, presence and true action.|
|Show hack||Competition featuring horses of elegant appearance, with an excellent way of going and self-carriage.|
|Show hunter (British)||Competition on the flat where horses are evaluated on manners and way of going.|
|Working hunter||Competition over fences where the horse's form, style and way of going is paramount. ("Working hunter" is also a subgroup of show hunters in the USA)|
|Campdrafting||Campdrafting is an Australian competition in which a horse and rider team work individual cattle over a set outside course. Campdrafters use either English saddles as well as the Australian stock saddle that was originally adapted from English tack.|