Western Riding

3 Characteristics of Western Riding

Two weeks ago, you took your son to a rodeo in your hometown. Since then, he hasn’t talked about anything except horses and cowboys. And, he’s been asking you a ton of questions about Western riding that you can’t answer. If you can relate, you should learn 3 important characteristics of Western riding.

The Wardrobe

Western riders are well known for their unique wardrobe. Perhaps the most recognizable wardrobe essential is the cowboy hat. Western riders also usually wear button-up plaid or solid shirts. A pair of boot-cut jeans are a must. Western style boots round out the perfect outfit. During competitions, some riders might opt to wear a protective helmet instead of a cowboy hat.

Neck Reining

In addition to wearing a unique outfit, western riders also depend on a technique called neck reining. This distinctive feature of western riding requires the person on the horse to ride while grasping the reins in one hand. English riders hold the reins in both hands. To practice neck reining, you should:

  • Hold the reins in your left hand if you are right-handed. If you are left-handed, grasp the reins in your right hand.
  • Place your hand in front of your body with your thumb pointing skyward.
  • If you want to make a right turn, place the left rein on the horse’s neck. Prompt the horse to action with your right leg. For a left turn, place the right rein on the horse’s neck. Signal the horse to action with your left leg.
  • Always keep both of your shoulders level.
  • During long outings, don’t always hold the reins in one hand. Doing so may injure your horse’s back by putting too much strain on it.


In Western riding, jogging is often the preferred speed for the horse to travel. Jogging is faster than walking, but slower than a trot. This type of horse riding provides a comfortable pace for Western riders working with cattle.

If you’re interested in Western riding, you may want to purchase a distinctive western outfit. You will also need to learn how to neck rein and teach your horse to jog. Before you know it, you will look like an authentic cowboy or cowgirl.