Day 6 activities for SLT Champ Camp

Riding can take many forms, and not just English or Western. The main difference between English and Western riding is the saddle. A Western saddle is larger and heavier, and is designed to spread the weight across a larger area of the horse's back, making it more comfortable for long days out chasing cows. The reins are typically held in one hand and have little to no contact with the horse's mouth. In English riding, the saddle is smaller, lighter and provides closer contact with the horse's back. The rider also holds the reins in both hands and has direct contact with the horse's mouth. Within both styles, there are variations of saddle and bridle that accommodate certain styles, sports and disciplines.

There are numerous disciplines within each style. Many riders start out casually trail riding and then choose a specific type of riding to do from there. Here we will investigate further into some of the most popular styles of riding.

Popular Equestrian Disciplines

  • Barrel Racing

    A rodeo speed event where a horse and rider compete in a clover leaf pattern around barrels, without knocking them over. Watch barrel racing sisters from Kentucky Educational Television

  • Cutting

    A western discipline where the objective is for the rider and horse to separate a few cows from a herd. Watch the sport of cutting from the National Cutting Horse Association

  • Dressage

    A sport that emphasizes the training scale and accurate, correct training progression, where a rider and their mount perform a memorized test with different elements and received scored feedback from the judge on each piece. Learn more about Dressage from FEI.

  • Driving

    A horse, or pair or team of horses, are hitched to a cart or carriage that is driven by the rider. It can be pleasure, judged on manners and quality, or combined, which takes part in three events — dressage, marathon, and cones. Watch the sport of driving from US Equestrian.

  • Endurance

    As the name implies, a competition over long distances where not only the best time but the best conditioned horse wins. Learn more about endurance events from FEI.

  • Eventing

    An all-around sport where horses and riders compete in three phases over three days — dressage, cross country and show jumping — which test training, endurance, athleticism, submission, and obedience. Watch an introduction to Eventing fom FEI.

  • Gymkhana

    A multi-game event which displays the versatility and obedience of the horse and the piloting skill of their riders. Watch The Big Gymkhana event to see examples of the different events.

  • Hunters

    Where a horse and rider jump a set course of natural-type obstacles, and the judging is based on accuracy, grace, elegance. and type. Learn more about hunter horses from Equestrian Life.

  • Polo

    A team sport, played on polo ponies (not always actual ponies, but smaller statured, handy, athletic mounts), where you hit a ball with a long handled mallet to try and score by getting the ball into the goal. Watch a CBS News video about the sport.

  • Reining

    A western event where riders guide their horses through a predetermined and precise pattern of spins, circles and stops, gathering points on each element from the judges. Learn Reining 101 from Equestrian Life.

  • Roping

    A rodeo event where a rider on a horse needs to catch a cow or calf with a rope as fast as possible. Learn the basics of roping from Horse City.

  • Show Jumping

    A speed event where riders and their horses attempt to jump cleanly, with no faults, around a set of obstacles within a specified time. Watch an introduction to jumping from FEI.

  • Steeplechase

    As the name implies, a competition over long distances where not only the best time but the best conditioned horse wins. Watch a steeplechase event from Maryland Farm & Harvest

  • Team Penning

    A team sport, where three horses and riders cut and separate three specific cows from a herd. Watch a team penning overview from US Team Penning Association.

  • Vaulting

    Essentially gymnastics and dancing done on horseback — vaulters twist, turn, leap and flip on their extremely well-trained mounts. Watch a vaulting event from FEI.

  • Western Pleasure

    A western event where the horses are evaluated for their manners, composure, and way of going — they should appear to be a comfortable, uncomplicated and leisurely ride. Watch a judge's perspective from American Quarter Horse Association.

activity: Equestrian Discipline Word Search

Challenge yourself with a word search to familiarize yourself with different equestrian disciplines.



Dig deeper into disciplines with US Equestrian's overview of all recognized disciplines: Read more Now

Learn more about English disciplines, including iconic riders, from FEI: Learn Now

Prep for the (rescheduled) 2020 Tokyo Olympics from Tokyo 2020: Prep Now

Understand more about barrel racing and patterns from Michigan State University: Understand Now

Love competing? Learn more about college equestrian competitions from The National Collegiate Equestrian Association: Learn Now

No matter which discipline you love, learn more about showing from Horse Illustrated: Learn Now

Watch eventing highlights from the 2018 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event: Watch Now

Learn more about reining from Iowa State University: Learn Now

Understand the Pyramid of Training from United States Dressage Foundation: Understand Now

Spend some time curled up with a great horse book! Check out our reading list ideas here

Have you visited our Kids Corner? Check out additional fun activities here

  • Published:
  • Updated: 7/20/2020: 2:51:03 PM ET
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