English horseback riding is one of the oldest riding styles still widely practiced.
English riders maintain contact with the reins of which they hold in both hands. Also, riders post (rise with the gait) when riding at a trot and english saddles generally have a deep seat and a high cantle.
English riding is intended to allow the horse freedom of motion, capturing the natural beauty of the horses gait. Moreover, this allows the horse to perform the required maneuvers of the varied events english riders compete at.
English Riding Styles
When most people think of an english riding horse, they are envisioning the beautiful movements of dressage.
Comprising of both classical dressage and contemporary dressage, the discipline is characterized by fluid movements and precision in execution of transitions, turns, and stops.
Dressage is a highly formalized discipline and has maintained a large following throughout the world.
Show jumping is often the next most popular discipline in english riding. Show jumping competitions require a horse and rider team to perform a pattern of jumps over fences and other obstacles mimicking what would be found on a fox hunt.
Horses are scored on time and they are penalized for knocking down any jumping obstacles. Show jumping is performed at all levels from local amateurs, to the Olympics, and professional level.
Eventing competitions are an exciting combination of show jumping and cross country jumping competitions.
Eventing events are generally held over the course of multiple days and require a fit and athletic horse and rider to perform at the highest levels.
Eventing is also an Olympic sport.
While endurance riding at lower levels of competition can be found comprising of both english and western riders, at the highest levels of competition only English riders are allowed.
An endurance riding competition is a long distance trail ride where the winner is determined by having the fastest time to completion.
Performed both in hunt seat and saddle seat variations, english pleasure classes are very popular throughout all levels of competition in the United States.
Horses are judged at the walk, trot, and canter. They are occasionally asked to perform a working trot and a hand gallop.
Scores are based on the smoothness of movement and transitions. Horses are rode collected and movements by successful competitors are natural and effortless.
Similar to pleasure, equitation classes are performed in both hunt seat and saddle seat.
Horse and rider are judged based on the abilities of the rider. A good equitation rider is able to perform all requested gaits and transitions smoothly and without difficulty.
Performed with other riders in the arena, all maneuvers are performed on flat ground.
Hunter Over Fences
Also called show hunter, this event is a jumping class generally performed at the lower levels.
Show hunter classes are held at open horse shows, 4-h shows, and some circuit shows.