English riding showcases the ability of the rider to control every move of the horse through use of the reins and the rider’s legs. Riding a horse was common in civilizations throughout history, dating back thousands of years. Horses were used by many civilizations as transportation, co-workers, draft animals, friends and entertainment.
Though there are other styles of riding today, equestrians hail English riding as the most elegant inside or outside of the show ring. But it’s not only the rider’s skill that sets English riding apart. The horse riding apparel that English riders wear is not only functional but also very stylish.
What’s The History Of Riding Horses?
When man first started interacting with horses, alesco they didn’t initially ride them, but rather used them to pull carts and chariots. No one knows which civilization first started riding horses, but through artifacts historians have established that the first equestrian equipment likely consisted of no more than a rope around the horse’s neck and a blanket or mat of some kind to protect the rider.
Actively breeding horses for domestic use did not occur until 1000 B.C. and it wasn’t until the medieval period (the 5th to 15th centuries) that horses were categorized. Instead of categorizing by breed, horses were categorized by their use. Horses used to pull carts were called carthorses and horses used in war were called chargers. These areas of specialization eventually led to a divergence in equestrian equipment and horse riding apparel.
What’s The Difference From English Saddles And Western Saddles?
English saddles are much flatter and more lightweight than their Western counterparts. The English saddle does not have a horn and the stirrups are much lighter and simpler than Western equestrian equipment. In the same way, English horse riding apparel stays with this focus on control and formality by insisting upon sleek lines, trim forms, and subdued elegance.
In English riding, the English saddle is placed over a saddle pad of minimal size. A lightweight bridle is used and, in some cases, a martingale or chest plate may be used. While significantly different in size, weight, and construction from that of a Western saddle, there are many different types of English saddle, depending upon its intended use.
English saddles used in jumping are far different from dressage saddles. Pleasure-riding or all-purpose saddles merge the benefits of several different styles of English saddle to make it more useful for the casual rider. Most English riders carry a crop when riding. English equestrian equipment is maintained in a clean and well-oiled manner, demonstrating the elegance and art of English riding.
What Horse Riding Apparel Is Appropriate For English Riding?
The goal in dressing for English riding is to demonstrate control over yourself as well as your horse. Loose hair and clothing are avoided, as are overly revealing garments and shabby work clothes. The English rider does well to take pride in their appearance wherever they are riding.
English horse riding apparel consists of a pair of paddock boots or tall boots worn with jodhpurs or riding breeches. In the show ring, women wear a short-collared ratcatcher shirt with a stock pin at the collar, while men wear a long-sleeved button-down shirt. Ratcatchers and other riding shirts have longer sleeves than street wear to allow the necessary freedom of movement required when jumping.
Many English riders are also seen wearing short, trim riding gloves. In the show ring, all English riders, except in some dressage classes, are required to wear an ASTM/SEI approved riding helmet as part of their regular horse riding apparel.
Sometime in the last 6,000 years, people have gone from riding bareback on wild caught horses to the exquisite art and formality seen in Olympic level dressage shows. English saddles facilitate the movement and grace necessary to the English rider. The equestrian equipment used today reflects that same measure of stately elegance and precise control seen when individuals ride in the English style.
Anne Coyle writes for The Equestrian Corner. They provide high quality English Saddles and horse riding apparel that define the elegance of English riding while providing safety to the rider.