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A Western Girl in an English World


If you didn’t get an idea from the title, I ride Western. I started learning how to ride in Western Pleasure, but I had a need for speed, so I quickly traded my silver-plated saddle for a barrel saddle and moved into the barrel racing world! Needless to say, I never had much interest in riding English. My only English street cred was that one of my closest friends was an eventer, but even then, almost everyone I knew rode Western. Sure, I rode in an English saddle a few times, but my beautiful barrel saddle was always calling to me. It was just a completely different realm for me, and one I never worried about crossing into.

Fast forward to after college, when I found my dream job working at a place where all employees loved horses (is this heaven? No, it’s just SmartPak!). Little did I know that in New England, while yes, there are Western riders, it is predominately an English riding world. My first day at SmartPak I was so overwhelmed with excitement, but I was also slightly overwhelmed with feelings of surprise, as well. Looking around the office, I realized that I was only one out of a handful of riders who was a Western rider. It definitely hit me one day when we were in a meeting, and everyone was happily chatting about SmartPak’s new product line and my co-workers were talking about all of the beautiful full seat and knee patch breech options, and I slowly raised my hand and innocently asked “Hold up, everyone. What is a full seat and/or a knee patch breech?”

Crickets.


Blank stares and wide eyes swept through the room as everyone glanced over at me. When I asked that question, it was like a turning point. My co-workers suddenly realized I knew nothing about English riding, but they also realized I knew A LOT about the Western world I’ve come to know and love. Just like I didn’t quite understand the whys and whats of the hunter/jumper and dressage world, other riders in the office didn’t quite understand the whys and whats of my barrel racing and Western riding world. And that was the best part about this moment – when we all realized that we had so much more to learn about riding in general.

I’m happy to relay to you that I definitely know plenty about the English world now, and I even love riding in my Piper Knit Full Seat Breeches when I’m working my mare and trail riding (they feel like leggings, and I can never say no to leggings!). Even though I will always be a western rider, opening up to another discipline has helped me grow as a rider, and as a horsewoman! No matter what discipline you are – Western, hunter/jumper, dressage, saddle seat, driving, or anything else, there is always something that you can learn from other riders!

Posted in Stories & Adventures

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