A gorgeous palomino hanging out with her rider after a trail ride.

Western riders all have one commonality… a love for horses! From the fast and furious barrel racers to the slow and steady trail riders, western riding is a collage of different disciplines. It may have started with cowboys in the American West, but nowadays women, children, and folks of all kinds enjoy this type of riding.

1. What’s the most popular breed?

Quarter Horses are most commonly used in western disciplines. Paints, Appaloosas, Arabians, and Morgans are also popular.

2. How did this type of riding originate?

Western riding evolved from cattle ranching. The horn on the saddle was used when a cow was captured and roped. The saddle has since morphed, depending on the discipline it’s used for. Many trail riders and ranchers still use a saddle similar to the olden days.

3. Do you hold the reins with one hand?

Specifically in western disciplines, riders many choose to neck rein and hold the reins in their dominant hand. Two hands may be used in lower level classes and those without restrictions. For example, many riders will opt to ride with two hands when competing in a class such as green reining at a horse show.

4. What type of disciplines are included?

  • Barrel Racing
  • Pole Bending
  • Trail Riding
  • Western Pleasure
  • Roping
  • Reining
  • Cutting
  • Western Horsemanship
  • Ranch Riding

5. What kind of tack and riding attire is required?

That greatly depends on the discipline. Typically, a saddle and pad are used along with a headstall and curb or snaffle bit. Sometimes, a hackamore is used instead. Riders are usually seen wearing cowboy boots, jeans, chaps or chinks, a long-sleeve shirt, and a cowboy hat or helmet. Some show equipment and attire may be flashy with silver and bling.

Cowgirls love their western horses! Do you agree?