When it comes to horseback riding, there are two primary styles: English and Western. The two riding styles differ in virtually every relevant category, including the equipment used and the type of horse. Individuals who ride English will take on many customs and riding gear popularized by classical European riders, while Western riders are more influenced by American cowboys and cattle ranchers. The American influence is most clearly evident in the Western-style saddle, which is designed to evenly distribute weight across the horse’s back. This allowed ranchers to rope and lead cows without losing their balance. The Western saddle also features a horn that can be used to tie a lariat.
English riders prefer taller, long-legged horses that can run for long distances and leap over obstacles during a riding competition. Western-style horses, on the other hand, are generally smaller and ride at an even speed for extended periods of time while herding cattle. It should be noted, however, that a horse’s personality is more important than its physical description. A thoroughbred from a champion bloodline, for example, may have been bred for the dressage ring but go on to demonstrate an innate cow sense.