I ride both English and Western; I ride Jumpers Cross Country and Dressage. I also ride in and own several custom Western saddles along with my English saddles. I am able to cross over to any Discipline and succeed because I have good horsemanship skills. I am grateful I opened my mind to the man in the cowboy hat and choose to listen. I told to my mentor when I ﬁrst met him that I only had an English saddle and wanted to know if I could I use it in his colt starting clinic. His response was “It doesn’t matter what clothes you wear, it only matters your horsemanship skills.” That statement has stuck in my head for 19 years. I continue to enhance my skills so I am able to have Quite Minded, comfortable horses to work with no matter what saddle style I am riding in.
My students are able to cross disciplines because they are taught to unite with their horses and have timing, balance, and feel with conﬁdence. I teach my students from the beginning how to balance with their thighs and use their lower leg, seat and thighs to communicate with the horses. They are taught to balance through their bodies. I have them ride in Western Saddles, English Saddles and Bareback. They learn to feel the horse and understand the horse’s movement. My students are taught to be conﬁdent and understand their horses, feel what the horse is communicating and support their horses. This allows the horse to feel conﬁdence from their riders and in turn the rider has conﬁdence in their horse. I teach Jumping, Horsemanship, Western and Trail riding and my horses are able to cross over and do their jobs regardless of the saddle type they are ridden in. Ray Hunt has a quote in his book Cowboy Logic, “I donʼt ride my saddle, I ride my horse.” If a rider is feeling their horses through the saddle then the rider is connected to the horse and the horse’s movement. With this connection a rider can develop the skill to ride in any saddle style. Not one saddle style is better or superior to another. Not one riding discipline is any more superior to another. The horse is the reason any of us get involved in the different disciplines and riding styles. It is about the horse not the saddle.