Different Horseback Riding Styles

Horses are majestic creatures that have been part of human culture for thousands of years. While their primary purpose is transportation, at Ridge Meadow Horse Farm, we aim to show the fun side of horse riding. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rider, our riding instruction is tailored to the specific details of every rider. Our goal is to enhance the experience of all our guests regardless of age or riding experience.

Horseback riding is split into English and Western, with the primary difference being the saddle. English saddles are smaller and lighter, offering close contact between the rider and the horse. On the other hand, Western saddles are larger, spreading the rider’s weight over the horse’s back. Each has benefits and disadvantages, and our instructor ensures riders have pertinent information to enhance their riding experience. Here are the types of Horseback Riding Styles every rider needs to know.


Dressage is a traditional riding style that is considered extreme. The technique is best suited for competitions, as the rider and horse must perform rehearsed movements. Developing the horse’s athletic ability for the best riding is recommended. The Olympics has a category specifically for Dressage, where riders and their horses are judged out of 10. The best breeds for this American riding technique are Andalusian and Lipizzan, baroque breeds.


This is another English riding style that combines Dressage, cross country, and jumping. It is more of an event that takes three days to complete, with each day representing a different discipline. Eventing stems from a cavalry test that was used to exhibit the majesty of horse riding. However, the combination of other disciplines into one makes eventing a challenging horse riding style.

Show Jumping

Show jumping is a form of English riding, encompassing other styles like the jumper, hunter, and hunt. It is also referred to as stadium jumping because it is contested inside a stadium rather than outdoors. The rider and the horse must complete a series of jumps within a time limit. The horse needs to be strong enough to jump over the obstacles on the course and have the speed to sprint between the fences. The best breed for this riding style is the American Quarter which is an excellent starter before proceeding to warmblood breeds for more advanced stages.

Western Pleasure

This more relaxed horse riding style assesses the horse’s demeanor and suitability for pleasure riding. The horse parades around a designated area, and commands such as jog, walk, reverse, and the instructor or judge gives lope. While this western style is relatively slow, the goal is to ensure the horse is ideal for pleasure riding. The horse breeds with style and manner are American Paint, American Quarter, and Appaloosa.


Also referred to as western Dressage, reining requires horses to perform a series of circles, loops, and spins. The primary purpose of this technique is to familiarize the horse with commands as it lopes and gallops around the course. The bond between the rider and the horse should be so unique that the cues and commands are almost seamless or virtually invisible to the instructor and spectators. Like the American Dressage, riders need precision and control for smooth execution and riding. The most famous horse breed for this riding style is the American Quarter.


This is unlike your typical horse riding style, as it takes a rodeo approach that aims to show a horse’s ability to single out one cattle and direct it to a specific area. While the goal is to see if the horse can perform such a task, the rider should be skillful so that the horse can perform at its best. If you live on a ranch and have a herd of cattle, you stand to benefit from this riding style and improve the agency and performance of your horse.

Barrel Racing

Any breed can be used in barrel racing, as long as it is in tip-top condition. Barrel racing was established in the early 1930s in Texas. Only two barrels were used at the time, and riders would circle them in a figure of eight as fast as possible. Over time, barrel racing has advanced, with patterns changing and more barrels added. To effectively perform this riding style, riders need speed and balance.s


Endurance riding involves long-distance treks that range between 25 to 500 miles. It started as a way of testing cavalry mounts in the early 20th century and became a sport in the 1950s. It is popular in most states, but the weight limit and distance are less severe. Depending on the distance, health checks should be conducted at intervals, ensuring the rider and the horse are in good condition throughout the event.


Gymkhana is believed to be from the Indian language, meaning games on horseback. The first event originated from the English military during the colonial era and was used as a way to showcase and advance their riding skills. Today, Gymkhana is a timed obstacle course that includes team and individual events. It showcases the agility, speed, and strength of different horses. It also improves your skills as a rider, allowing you to optimize every riding experience.


Saddleseat riding is a Western horse riding style that plantation owners commonly used. Most horses were large and required specific riding to maneuver around the premises. Some breeds suited for Saddleseat riding include Arabians, Morgans, and other breeds with free-moving gaits and upright necks.


The sport of kings is one of the most popular events globally, as it pits the agility and speed of horses. It also tests the rider’s skills and balance as they rush down the track. If you are a fan of fast riding, this is the ideal horseback riding style. The thoroughbred is considered the best breed for race riding, as they have a proven history and pedigree in racing.

Visit our signature stables at Ridge Meadow Horse Farm and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime horse riding experience tailored to your needs. Contact us and schedule a consultation with our representatives to schedule an event or horse riding training at pocket-friendly rates.

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