The English saddle is smaller and lighter than a Western saddle, with no saddle horn, traditionally used for such activities as dressage, hunting, jumping, and polo. While the Western saddle is designed for the rider’s long-term comfort, its English counterpart is meant to bring the rider into closer contact with the horse. The simple elegance of the saddle is matched by the rider’s clothing, with the high boots, helmet, breeches, and jacket.
There are three main types of English saddles:
- Dressage saddles have a deep seat and straight flaps to allow the rider’s leg position to be lengthened.
- Close contact saddles have a more curved flap and minimal padding, and are used for jumping activities.
- All-purpose saddles combine aspects of both, to be used for straight riding as well as jumping.
In English riding, the tack is different as well. For one, the reins are meant to be held in both hands, to give the rider more control over the various movements and jumps the horse may be required to do.
Key English tack includes:
- Halter: a nylon, cotton, or leather rope or strap attached the head gear to lead or to tie the horse.
- Cross-tie: used to secure the horse during grooming or saddling, attached to the D-rings at each side of the halter.
- Bridle: Consists of three parts:
- Headstall: equipped on the horse’s head
- Bit: placed in the horse’s mouth, to press on the tongue the bars of the mouth
- Reins: leather straps, attached to each side of the bit, to maneuver the horse.
- Stirrups: iron frames where the rider’s feet rest, attached to the saddle by stirrup leathers.
- Girth: holds the saddle in place, often made from leather.
- Saddle pads: helps add cushioned comfort to the rider.