Saturday, February 19, 2011

Not English Bashing

  I have several students who are currently working on advancing their riding skills and moving from 2 handed riding to 1 handed. The other day, I had  a student who was just starting to learn 1 handed riding & got very frustrated trying to learn how to hold the reins properly & use the reins properly for one handed riding while neck reining. If you've been there, perhaps you know the feeling.

  Are you one of those riders who rode mostly english when you were younger and are now just learning to ride western?  I have a few of those. In fact, I have a few techniques to use to help with the transition. Perhaps you are chosing to ride western in your adult years.  Or perhaps you are one of those western riders who thought they were taught western riding but found out that you were really taught english with western tack.
 I noticed a lot of that where I live.  I have one student who's children are currently being taught english riding with western tack. When the instructor was asked to confirm that the children were going to learn neck reining, the instructor replied "no. It's english ... direct reining" ... claiming it's just to get the kids to learn how to steer the horse first.  My student was not happy.  I personally don't like it either.

 Back to the 1st student.... this student stopped their lesson (they were so frustrated) and began to explain the frustration and questioned 1 handed riding in general. Why should they do it period! The student stated that their comfort level was with english, therefore 2 handed riding, that they have been riding for 15 years 2 handed and didn't see why they needed to ride 1 handed.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." was my reply. If you are comfortable riding 2 handed and someone doesn't want to learn or see the need to learn to ride 1 handed... then don't.
I did go on to offer my opinion however, that I do believe that going from 2 handed riding to 1 handed riding advances a rider and horse's skill level.

The student then stated that it sounded like riding english was some how not as good as western, because in western, you ride 1 handed. 
I said "no. It has nothing to do with english or western.
"It sounds like it to me." was the student's reply.
I said "no. It has nothing to do with english or western or driving for that matter... I believe it's the same as going from riding 1 handed to no handed. Whether it's going from 2 handed to 1 handed or 1 handed to no handed... It's advancing a rider's and horse's skill level."

The student thought that learning western meant you had to learn to ride 1 handed.  I mentioned that there are lots of western riders who ride 2 handed (recreational riders, trail riders, rodeo, team penners, snaffle bit riders... lots of western riders). A lot of riders are comfortable staying at the 2 handed level and that's fine.

I did add that for riding competition in western, there are a lot of events that require riding 1 handed.  And western historically is 1 handed riding as the cowboys held the rope in their other hand - there was a useful purpose to riding 1 handed. Besides advancing their skill level!

In my reining competition, I do show 1 handed. Our 2 yr. old ORHA reining futurity class can be shown either 2 handed or 1 handed.

The student thought about it and decided to continue to learn how to ride 1 handed. With that decision made, I was able to find a technique for the student that was very easy to transition to 1 handed. We had success!! :) 
I also congratulated the student on being able to talk about this so that we could work together to come up with a better technique.

Not English Bashing
I do get tired of this old practise in the horse riding world of negatively comparing (or bashing) the 'other' discipline.  I make sure that I clarify any misunderstandings by people if they think I do that sort of thing.
Only a few years ago, I was in an all-discipline course put on by a high level organization and I heard western bashing by the course instructor and she was high up in the organization. I was the 1 western only rider. There were 2 riders who rode both english and western and they were insulted. I do admit that my first reaction was shock.  I was also surprised by the lack of professionalism on her part. I'm just getting really tired of it.

Of course, we all know that advancing a rider and horse's skill level is also about finishing a horse in an event and a rider mastering an event, whether english, western or driving.

Please feel free to comment positively. Any bashing comments will be deleted.
Putting my spin on advancing rider & horse's skill levels! YES!!!
@KISS Reiners

1 comment:

  1. Posted with permission: "Great comment on English bashing, and so true! You dealt with the topic with sensitivity and professionalism. Considering I am one of the "adult" riders who have always ridden and been instructed in English, but who is now more comfortable riding in Western Tack, but riding 2-handed, it resonated with me. The Western world has introduced me to excellent clinicians like Clinton Anderson, Stacy Westfall, Bob Avila, and I have learned so much more about groundwork and working with the horse than I ever did with the English instruction. I am having so much fun learning about all of these concepts and do enjoy reading your blogs."