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Equestrian Sports


Western style horseback riding ubiquitous in the United States, and now rapidly conquering the whole world. Western sport is becoming increasingly popular in Europe, and more recently in Russia. One of the most spectacular and popular disciplines - Reining - has already been recognized by the FEI and is included in the program of the World Equestrian Games. Raining enthusiasts also hope that he will be included in the Olympic program by 2012.

Modern cowboys are athletes competing in various western-style riding competitions.

Western driving principles
Western riding principles can be traced back to almost 400 BC, when the Greek soldier and historian Xenophon described the basics of horse dressing: balance, weight control, patience and gentleness are the key to a well-trained and supple horse. The main provisions of his theory were used in their daily work by Spanish riders-vakeros, who brought their style to America at the beginning of the 16th century. Already there, he slightly adapted to local needs and characteristics and formed into an American unique style of riding - western. Two traditions also stand out in the Western style - the California (more refined dressage of the horse) and the Texas (more practical) schools.
American cowboys spent many hours in the saddle, and the riding style and equipment were adapted to work with lasso and "sort" herds, often on rough terrain. It was just because of the lasso that the so-called Western brand name: neck-reining, a cowboy could control a horse with only one hand, so all horses were trained to turn from the application of the halter to the neck.
Despite the striking differences in ammunition and clothing between the classic (English) and cowboy style, the difference between the ride is not as great as most horsemen think. Both styles require the rider to have a confident and independent fit and soft work occasion. The main difference in the dressage of the horse, perhaps, is that the cowboy horse is trained to be more independent, and the training uses its natural movements when working with a cow.

Horse and rider equipment
The work of a cowboy required equipment other than the familiar “English” used in classic equestrian sports. Cowboys traveled long distances a day and worked with a half-wild herd, often maneuvering at high speed over rough terrain. If the rider suddenly fell off his horse, he was actually left alone for many kilometers from the house. Also, the horse, spending many hours under the saddle, needed to provide comfort. Therefore, the main feature of the western style is the saddle.

Massive, deep, with a wide ribbon, distributing the weight of the rider over a larger area of ​​the horse’s back. First of all, a horn is striking (a lasso was wound on it, as well as a halter, caps, etc.), high bows, wide fenders and massive stirrups.

Depending on the peculiarities of geography, tapaderos (tapaderos, “taps”) were put on the front of the stirrups - special “covers” that prevented dust, branches and thorns from getting into the cowboy’s stirrup and boots. Cowboy boots have sharper noses and high heels than traditional riding boots. Due to their shape (and the shape of the stirrups), the possibility of a rider’s foot becoming stuck in a stirrup when falling is minimized.

To control the horse on a free occasion, another headband was also needed. One of the main differences between the classic and the cowboy headband is iron. The traveled western horse is driven on the lever iron (curb bit) with one occasion, the levers of such iron are longer than the levers of the "classic" mouthpiece (used in the "English double" headband) or peel.

There are two types of reins: a long split reins from a Texas school or a connected Romal reins from a California school. Young horses begin to be trained in a Texas school with a snaffle headband (the snaffle is also different from English), or in front of the sine-pulle headbands (non-saber headbands), in a California school, according to the Wakero tradition, the horse is transferred to the Bosal (cowboy hackamor) after the snaffle, then lever iron is added to the bosal, they work on such a double headband, and only then the horse is finally transferred to lever iron.

Horseman clothes
The clothing of the western rider also differs from the “English” style familiar to spectators and participants in dressage, show jumping or eventing competitions. A cowboy is wearing a long sleeve shirt, jeans, boots and, of course, a cowboy hat. Usually, protective leather “pants” are also put on over the jeans - caps (from the Spanish word chaparejos or chaparreras). The cowboy’s work clothes are also duplicated in the show arena, in western sports or rodeo competitions, except that in competitions the clothes are most often in brighter colors. Yes, and working cowboys are unlikely to wear light caps and a white hat.

Performance Equipment
In competitions in Western disciplines, you can often see bright, eye-catching equipment and clothes, in contrast to the "English" traditions of performances, when clothes and ammunition are not diverse. Saddles, headband and iron are often embellished with rich embossing and engraved silver plates.

Shirts of male riders are often brighter, instead of shirts women wear bright-colored turtlenecks decorated with rhinestones and embroidery. Large engraved silver buckles, spurs with engraving are also striking in the eyes of cowboy athletes. The caps and hats of finer material and color are usually in harmony with the ammunition or suit of the horse.

Western competitions
All Western-style competitions can be divided into a stylish Western and Rodeo. Perhaps, only one thing unites them: a relaxed atmosphere, an audience loudly greeting the speakers (often the audience is compared in volume to football fans) and at the same time calm and relaxed horses.

Some disciplines stylish western:

Western pleasure - One of the most popular types of competitions in the style of Western. Unlike other types - racing, trailing, barrel-racing, etc. - there are many participants at the arena at the same time. Here, not only the rider’s talents and horse riding ability are evaluated, but also its gait and obedience. Riders ride one after another along the wall of the arena in steps, jog (very slow trot) or loop (very slow gallop). During the ride, the judge gives the command which gait to go when to change direction. The judge also asks for a stop and upset. The horse remains collected and attentive to the rider, driven by inconspicuous commands on a free occasion, transitions from gait to gait are invisible.
Western horsemanship - A very popular sport among beginner riders and amateurs. The competition scheme is a set of various elements that the horse and rider must correctly and beautifully perform. This can be a straight line ride with various gaits, a variety of volts, races and turns. There are always stops and upsets in the pattern, the judge can also add spin, turns on the back and front or their combination, various lateral movements to the pattern. Lately added trot and gallop has also become popular. Unlike other sports in Western Horsmanship, it is the horseman’s skill and his ability to efficiently and quietly issue the correct horse commands that are evaluated.
Western trail - a kind of western style parkour. At the arena lay out the route that participants must overcome. It consists of a minimum of 6 obstacles, 3 of which are mandatory (gates (open, drive through, close without lifting your hands), poles laid out on the ground (at least 4, you need to go through them), upsetting (in poles laid in Form I , L, V, П or around markers)) and optionally (it can be a bridge, a square turn, a raincoat (put on and take off), a mailbox, side pass (taking at 90 degrees along, above or between poles, markers etc.) and so on). On the route, the horse’s behavior when overcoming an obstacle, independent choice of passing simple obstacles and attentiveness to the rider’s commands in more complex tasks are evaluated. The quality and rhythm of the pads are also evaluated. Judges love when a horse is interested in an obstacle, but does not go through it mechanically. Since 2005, Trail competitions have been held in Russia. At the Equiros exhibition in 2008, the Western Trail Equestrian Federation Cup was held. The Federation also held several Trail seminars, which aroused great interest among Russian horsemen.

Reining - The most dynamic and spectacular competitions, often called "dressage" in the Western world. Reining - recognized by the FEI and is included in the program of the World Equestrian Games, and the day is not far off when it will be included in the program of the Olympic Games. Participants perform at the arena one at a time, in each tournament a driving pattern is agreed (selected from the ones approved in the rules of the Association of Reining). The scheme includes circles at a gallop (large at a fast gallop and small at a loop), barter at a gallop, spin (fast “spinning” in place, up to 4 revolutions in one or the other direction), rollback (stop at a gallop, instant turn around 180 degrees and climb to the low) and, of course, the symbol of the Raining is a sliding stop (sliding stop, the horse gallops at maximum speed, brakes with his hind legs at the command of the rider, actually glides).
Cutting - here solely the work of the horse is judged. The cowboy must cut the bull from the herd and keep it at a distance from it for a specified time. The cowboy is given 3 attempts to show what his horse is capable of. The participant steps into a herd of calves with reins in one hand and, holding them high above the saddle, selects one of them. The signal for the horse and judges that the calf is selected is the lowering of the reins. From this moment on, the horse switches his attention to this calf and the rider should not help the horse (in any case, so that it is noticeable to the judges). The horse holds the intended calf and does not allow him to return to the herd. In this case, the horse can only move to the right or left, but not forward or backward, the rider can hold the saddle with one hand. The more and faster the calf runs and changes directions, the more points a horse can earn. On the field there are also helping riders who prevent the calf from running deeper into the arena, in the opposite direction from the herd.
Working cow horse - Also called Reined cow horse, a kind of cowboy triathlon, which can literally be translated as “Dressage for working with a cow” or “Dressage of a workhorse”. Competitions consist of three separate stages - working with the herd (herd work), reining (reining) and working with the cow (cow work). Each of the stages is evaluated separately, after which one of the three assessments adds up one to determine the winner.
Versatility ranch horse - The purpose of these competitions is to test the working qualities of cowboy horses and choose the best of them. Here, the horses show their abilities, versatility and addition, necessary in working on a ranch. Competitions consist of five classes: Ranch riding (analogue of western pleasure), Ranch trail (analogue of trail) often lay out the route on the natural landscape, rather than on the arena, Ranch Cutting (analogue of cutting), Working ranch horse (combines reining, roping and working cow horse), and Ranch Conformation (brood, sued as halter class). A pair of horse-rider participate in each of them, and the winner is selected according to the results of all five classes. In these competitions no "jewelry" is allowed on the rider's clothing and horse equipment. Under the auspices of the Equestrian Western Sports Federation, in the summer of 2008 in Mozhaisk (KTB Outpost) the first competitions in this discipline took place in Russia.

Rodeo - A slightly different manifestation of Western competitions. It has more excitement and speed. Rodeo is not a separate sport; the rodeo includes several disciplines:
* Barrel racing - horse racing around the barrels. Now this is perhaps the only discipline in the rodeo where only women perform. Participants start one at a time, it is necessary to drive the route as quickly as possible around three barrels arranged in a triangle. The competition speed is very high - the results of the best rider-horse pairs are less than 15 seconds.

Show jumping

In this type of equestrian sport it is necessary to overcome a route consisting of various barriers. Depending on the type of competition and the applicable penalty table, for various errors the couple receives penalty points, penalty seconds or is excluded from the competition. Jumping is the most popular and youngest form of equestrian sport.

Sports Dressage

This is the art of running a horse. The program of sports dressage included mainly the basic elements of the classic. The purpose of dressage is the harmonious development of the physical abilities and abilities of the horse. A sports couple performs special tests of varying difficulty - driving. Rides consist of a sequence of different elements. This is the most technically challenging Olympic equestrian sport.

Horse Distance Racing

This is a time contest where horse endurance is tested. The rider's task is to cover the established distance (from 30 km to 160 km), which is divided into stages. In between, a veterinary inspection is carried out. During the examination, veterinarians check the condition of the horse and its readiness to continue the competition. Between stages, a sports couple has time to relax. The final veterinary inspection is carried out after the finish. Only those horses whose condition is found to be satisfactory after all the stages passed are recognized as having completed the race. This is one of the most popular equestrian sports.

Pony sport

A pony is a horse whose height at the withers does not exceed 150 cm (without horseshoes). Pony sport has its own show jumping, dressage and eventing. There is also pony driving. At the competitions, the tests are divided according to the growth of the pony and the age of the athlete. All the rules of "adult" equestrian sports also work in pony sports. Athletes aged 7 to 16 years are eligible to take part in competitions among pony riders.

Working Dressage or Working Equitation

This is a non-Olympic equestrian sport. Dressage competitions consist of 3 phases and take 2 days. At the High Level Championships, the third day is added and an additional tour - work with cattle. Working dressage involves a pair of rider / horse test, consisting of various obstacles, movements and riding. Maneuvering figures and obstacles are the joint work of the rider and the horse in its traditional form, as was the case on fields, farms and when working with cattle. This species is becoming more and more popular. Dressage competitions are very spectacular and vibrant. Work dressage in recent years began to develop in Russia.

Doma Vaquera or Cowboy Dressage

This species is one of the varieties of classic dressage. The competition program consists of 3 standard tests performed on a site of 20x60 meters. Despite the fact that the main grades are set for standard gait - step, lynx and gallop - the rider can improve the final result due to grades for the individual style of performance of the elements and the ability to present oneself on a horse.


A good cowboy-style rider sits in the saddle naturally and slightly imputes the horse. A cowboy horse is driven by loose, loose reins. The rider maintains a soft, forcing contact with the horse's mouth, if necessary. Typically, cowboy-style riders stop the horse with the voice command “Whoa!”.

Cowboy landing

With the right cowboy fit, you can draw a vertical line from the ear, over the shoulder and side to the heel. The length of leather stirrups is an important component of a cowboy fit. The angle of the upper leg (from the thigh to the knee) should be equal to the angle of the lower leg (from the knee to the ankle). The foot should be flush with the body. The sole of the foot is located on the foot of the stirrup, the heels are pointing down. The foot should be parallel to the body of the horse. The calves hang freely next to the horse's sides and are used to control the horse only in case of real need. The relaxed upper legs and knees are located on the saddle.

The horseman sits upright, with relaxed shoulders turned down and back. The upper parts of the arms to the elbows are relaxed hanging down along the body. The head is raised to maintain an excellent appearance and should look forward, and not into the ground or on the horse's neck.

Riding an adult horse

When riding an adult or experienced horse, the reins are held with one hand. You can use your left or right hand, but most people ride with reins in their left hand, because they are right-handed, leaving the “right” hand free to open the gates, etc. Cowboys use their right hand for a lasso or lasso. During slow cowboy riding exercises, the hand holding the reins is held directly in front of or above the bow of the saddle.

The free hand is held close to the arm with the reins or is lowered along the thigh. During quick exercises, the reins are held above the bow of the saddle, and the free arm is near the stomach or neck of the horse. The free ends of the reins hang from the side of the hand in which the rider holds the reins.

The step should be slow, smooth and unchanging. To move the horse in a step from the stance in place, use light pressure of the pendants. As soon as the horse has gone, the pressure is relieved. The reins are held as free as possible and are pulled only in case of emergency.

Jogging step

A jogging is called a soft, unstressed trot, during which the horse is in motion without overstrain. In the competition, it is necessary to precede the lynx with a jog, for which push the schenkels on the sides of the horse and hold your hands freely.

With increasing pace, jogging goes into a lynx. Cowboys use lynx as a means of quick movement - a lynx is less tiresome for a horse than a lope (jogging). Cowboys sit easily in the saddle, legs rest in stirrups, hands on the bow of the saddle for better balance. To go from a jog to a lynx, it is necessary to send the horse forward by pushing the sides of the horse with the schenkels and at the same time stretch his arms forward.


English riding contributes to organizing for youth, such as the Pony Club, and is the main riding style seen in various events and at the Olympic Games. English saddles are also used by many recreational riders for everyday riding. The main units of the English riding genre:


Forms of competition and exhibitions have been seen all over the world. Competitions include dressage, stamina, eventing, horse racing, horseball, polo, polocrosse, show jumping and tent pegging.

Dressage (Classic) Dressage, as practiced in historical times, with principles and goals similar to competitive dressage, but with different breeds of horses used, is additional (and more complex) Ecol (“Secondary school”) skills development and came in today mainly in the exhibition, and not in the competition. This is primarily due to the Spanish Riding School of Vienna and other similar programs.
Dressage (Contemporary) the term means training, a form of both training and competition around the apartment, which emphasizes the horse’s natural training to perform calmly and quietly in complete obedience to the cyclist. Recognized by the FEI and the Olympic sport.
Dressage (para-equestrian) similar to modern competitive dressage, but with a classification system that separates disabled riders into different classes, taking into account the seriousness of their disability. Recognized by the FEI and Paralympic Sports.
Wear Resistance Riding distance riding is a competition in which many saddle styles are used, but English saddles are very common internationally. A recognized FEI sport.
triathlon A competition that combines dressage, running jumps and show jumping are usually held for three days. Recognized by the FEI and the Olympic sport.
Horse racing generally speaking, riding a discipline that uses a very light saddle based on English design.
Horseball often compared to "rugby on horses", it includes two teams of four players each, who pass the ball from the rider to the rider and try to score by throwing the ball through a vertical hoop. A recognized FEI sport.
Polo a team sport that, with the exception of the western style, “cowboy polo” uses English-style equipment that is adapted for sports.
Polocrosse look like a polo with lacrosse elements added. Players use either English saddles or Australian equipment originally adapted from English stickiness.
Show jumping competition for fences, where scoring is completely objective. Scoring based on elapsed time and the number of obstacles cleared without knockdowns. It is a recognized FEI and Olympic sport.
tent pegging a combat sport that has evolved from cavalry training exercises, it includes a rider on a gallop, on a timed course, using a spear or sword or other weapon to hit the target’s course. This is a recognized FAIRY sport.

North America

In the United States and Canada, there are two main categories: English Riding Hunt is a place that is a general term used in the USA to describe front seat drive, used both on a flat and through fences. This style is most often associated with the term "English" riding. The other main style is Saddle Seat, a discipline created in North America to show dramatic, high-step breeds of horses. A saddle-style skiing spot is rarely seen outside of North America, although it has few followers in South Africa. In North America, dressage is sometimes loosely concentrated in the Seat Hunt category for Seat Saddles and non-English riders, primarily to distinguish it from Saddle seat disciplines.

In addition to the international events listed in the previous section, broad categories of English top competition were seen primarily in the United States and Canada:

Show hunter or huntercompetition for fences, where the horse's shape, style and way of walking is of utmost importance. It includes a green, work and conformation unit and may include a saddle hunter section that does not require jumping.
english pleasure classes in the United States on an apartment (do not jump) where horses are judged by manners and the way to go. It can be seen in the hunting of seats and horse riding disciplines.
Show hack the flat class was often seen in Canada, and on a more limited basis in the USA, with the participation of horses of elegant appearance, with a great way to go and self-transportation. Dressage is sticky and clothing is usually worn in competitions.
Hunter hack hunter-English style is a pleasure class that combines flat work with a short pattern usually consisting of two jumps and a manual gallop.
horseback riding competition in both seat hunting and horse riding disciplines, where the form of the cyclist and the ability to handle a horse were judged. Typically offered for youth riders, dressage competition also sometimes offers the Equitation division.

UK / Australia / New Zealand

"Show Events" or competition in the UK and Australia, in addition to the international events listed above, include other types of hacking, riding and equipment classes, such as:

Other types of hacks, riding lessons and equipment
Horse riding flat class for horses between hack and hunter type and quality of the show, substance, good skeleton, proper conformation, presence and true action.
Show hack competition with horses of elegant appearance, with a great way to go and self-transportation.
Show Hunter (British) competition for an apartment where horses are judged by manners and the way to go.
The work of hunters competition for fences, where the horse's shape, style and way of walking is of utmost importance. (“Hunter Job” is also a subgroup of hunter shows in the USA)
Campdrafting campdrafting is an Australian competition in which a horse and rider team runs separate cattle during off-course courses. Campdrafters use either English saddles or an Australian stock saddle that has been adapted with English stickiness.

In addition, most of these disciplines in all countries have Equitation divisions, in which riders are judged by their form and style. At some exhibitions, a lady's saddle division is also offered.

Lope (jogging)

Lope is a kind of easy gallop and represents consecutive jumps. If necessary, the horse is sent to this gait by pressing external caviar. To move from the jog to the lope, press the outer leg on the side of the horse.

Neck Reining (managing a horse by touching the neck with reins)

With neck reining (controlling a horse by touching her neck with reins), the horse learns to respond to the touch of reins on her neck. To make the horse understand which way to turn, the flat side of the reins is placed on the right or left side of the horse's neck.

During the turn, the internal motive is released, and the external is placed on the horse's neck. If the horse is controlled with one hand, the finger between the reins can slightly pull on the outside of the reins. For a well-trained horse, this maneuver is not necessary, but it is a useful message when training a horse to non-racing.

A message sent by touching the reins of a horse’s neck is reinforced by sending a foot. If you need to turn right, the left halter is placed on the neck, and the left leg exerts light pressure on the side of the horse, while the right leg is moved away from the horse. This gives the horse the opportunity to go right. The horse must not lower the shoulder from the inside of the turn. Both shoulders should remain at the same level as the back. The back may bend slightly.

Galloping in a circle

While running in a light gallop in a circle, the rider’s outer leg straightens, which leads to more pressure on the stirrup and automatically forces the rider to transfer weight to this side. In competitions, the speed at which large and small circles drive can be a decisive factor. Stretch your arms forward to increase speed.

Sliding stop (stop with hind braking)

During a slide stop, the horse stops when moving at a very fast gallop, while the hind legs burrow into the ground and the front legs continue to move. At first, it’s best to practice at such a stop during a light run. The rider throws the upper body back with the command "Whoa!". The legs move away from the horse to the sides to give the horse more space for the croup to move forward. If the horse does not respond to these two sends, both halts are pulled to stop the horse. Then the exercise is repeated so that the horse understands the purpose of the sends for the slide stop. For a good slide stop, the horse should relax well. If the horse is tense, it lifts its head up at speed, which is why the back and croup cannot stop correctly. When training a horse in a slide-foot, the tail is often braided or tied up so that the horse does not damage it.

Spin (spinning in place)

During the back (whirling in place), the horse spins in place almost like in a pirouette, while the inner hind leg remains in place, and the outer hind leg moves forward. Spin is performed by a combination of commands: neck-reining, appropriate landing and sending kicks. To teach a horse how to spin, first ride it in circles, removing the inner halter from the neck and pressing the outer halter to the horse's neck. Then the circles are reduced, for this there is a slight pressure with the outer leg and the inner leg is removed so that the horse does not interfere with turning steeper. When working on the back, teach the horse to lean inward and pick up the inner hind leg for himself, so that all the load falls on the outer hind leg. The outer leg should continue to move forward, and the inner leg should remain in place.

In the early stages of slide-stop training, the horse must learn to stop by voice command. During back, the Tpru! Command also applies, but this time only applies to the inner hind leg. At the same time, other forward sends are used, for example, reins, a shenkel and landing.

When training the back, it is better to use both hands to support the horse as much as possible. At the beginning it is important to turn slowly, but in a constant rhythm. Then the speed can be gradually increased. The task is to teach the horse to turn as flexibly as possible. For this exercise, the horse should have a sufficiently strong and movable back. It is very important at the very beginning to make sure that the horse is not dizzy from constant whirling in place. It makes more sense to stop after a couple of revolutions.