English riding is a form of horse riding seen throughout the world. There are many variations, but all feature a flat English saddle without the deep seat, high cantle or saddle horn seen on a Western saddle nor the knee pads seen on an Australian Stock Saddle. Saddles within the various English disciplines are all designed to allow the horse the freedom to move in the optimal manner for a given task, ranging from classical dressage to horse racing. English bridles also vary in style based on discipline, but most feature some type of cavesson noseband as well as closed reins, buckled together at the ends, that prevents them from dropping on the ground if a rider becomes unseated. Clothing for riders in competition is usually based on traditional needs from which a specific style of riding developed, but most standards require, as a minimum, boots; breeches or jodhpurs; a shirt with some form of tie or stock; a hat, cap, or equestrian helmet; and a jacket.
English riding is an equestrian discipline with many different styles, however, at the most basic level, most versions require riders to use both hands on the reins, rather than just one hand, as is seen in western riding. Riders also frequently "post" or "rise" to the trot called "posting trot" (rising and sitting in rhythm with each stride) in many circumstances, although there are also times when English riders may sit the trot called "sitting trot".
Dressage (Classical)Dressage as practiced in historic times, with principles and goals similar to competitive dressage, but with different breeds of horses used, additional (and more difficult) haute ecole ("high school") skills developed, and seen today primarily in exhibition, rather than in competition. It is primarily associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna and similar programs. Endurance ridingdistance riding competition, wherein many styles of saddle are used, but English saddles are very common at international levels. A recognized FEI sport. Eventingcompetition that combines Dressage, cross-country jumping and show jumping, usually held over a three-day period. A recognized FEI and Olympic sport. Horse racingbroadly speaking, a riding discipline that uses a very lightweight saddle based on an English design. Poloa team sport, which with the exception of western-style "cowboy polo," uses English-style equipment that is adapted for the sport. Polocrossesimilar to polo with elements of Lacrosse added. Players use either English saddles or Australian equipment originally adapted from English tack. Show jumpingcompetition over fences where scoring is entirely objective. Scoring is based on the time elapsed and on the number of obstacles cleared without knockdowns. It is a recognized FEI and Olympic sport.
In the United States and Canada, there are two broad categories of English riding: Hunt seat, which is an overall term used in the United States to describe forward seat riding, used both on the flat and over fences. This is the style most commonly associated with the term "English" riding. The other major style is Saddle seat, a discipline created in North America to exhibit dramatic, high-stepping breeds of horses. Saddle seat style riding is seldom seen outside North America, though it has a small following in South Africa. In North America, dressage sometimes is loosely lumped into the "hunt seat" category by Saddle Seat and non-English riders, primarily to differentiate it from the Saddle Seat disciplines.
In addition to the international events listed in the previous section, the broad categories of English riding competition seen primarily within the United States and Canada are:
Show hunter or Huntercompetition over fences where the horse's form, style and way of going is paramount. It includes Green, Working, and Conformation divisions and may include a "hunter under saddle" section that does not require jumping. English pleasureclasses in the United States on the flat (not to jump) where horses are evaluated on manners and way of going. It is seen in both hunt seat and saddle seat disciplines. Show hacka flat class seen frequently in Canada, and on a more limited basis in the USA, featuring horses of elegant appearance, with an excellent way of going and self-carriage. Dressage tack and attire is usually worn in competitions. Hunter hacka hunter-style English pleasure class that combines flat work with a short pattern usually consisting of two jumps and a hand gallop. Equitationcompetition in both hunt seat and saddle seat disciplines where the rider's form and ability to handle the horse is judged. Usually offered for youth riders, Dressage competitions will also occasionally offer an equitation division.