A Brief History of Western-Style Horseback Riding
There are several different ways to ride a horse. Originally, horses were ridden bareback or with thin blankets on their back, but as English and Western saddles came to be developed, the style of riding changed.
Horses were integral to early life in the western parts of the United States, and those that rode them were often working with livestock for hours on end—meaning comfort was key!
Western saddles have long been known for their comfort, versatility and durability, but have you ever wondered how they came to be and why they are so different from their English counterparts? We will be taking a deep dive into this information below!
A Short History of Western Riding Saddles
Western saddles are the original working saddle. The Western saddles we know and love today are a direct descendant of Spanish Vaqueros’ (cowboys’) working saddles, which were originally used to herd and work cows. As the ability of leather-working evolved, so did these working saddles, morphing into roping saddles, general saddles and other types of Western-adjacent styles we know today.
The horns were born from necessity. Originally, working-style saddles did not have the iconic horn that Western saddles are known for today. However, without the horn, those who were roping livestock did not have a secure anchor point to secure the lariat to. That is why saddles with horns were made, and now the horn is ubiquitous with the Western riding style.
The Western saddle is designed for comfort. Because the original users of the Western saddle were long-haul riders who were on their horses for most of the day, a comfortable saddle was a must. While English saddles are smaller and tend to be more rigid, Western saddles are large, comfortable and cushioned for hours of trail riding with ease.
There are multiple types of Western saddles. There are many horseback riding disciplines one can get into, reaching far beyond the general terms of English and Western. Riders may be roping cattle, working livestock herds, riding endurance, doing Western Pleasure shows or barrel racing—and there is a specific saddle for all of them!
Would you like to learn more about Western riding saddles? Come see us! Book a horseback riding adventure today to experience it for yourself.
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