- $350 for a five-day overnight camp with a one-hour private horseback-riding lesson ($550 value)
- Camps are for children ages 8–16. Click here for more information.
Western Horseback Riding: Of Hats and Herding
Many equestrians specialize in Western riding. Learn what that means with Groupon’s introduction.
Determining whether a rider is practicing the Western style of horsemanship requires no particular expertise. Rather, it requires a look at his or her hat. That’s because the attire of Western riders is typically inspired by the cowboys of the Old West, who developed a specialized riding style that riders continue to practice in competition today, performing for judges who assess their mastery based on a number of parameters. Taking the reins in one hand and maintaining light tension on the horse’s mouth, riders sit tall and straight and give direction to the horse by shifting their weight in the seat. Horses earn high marks by responding willingly to these subtle cues and by demonstrating a smooth, easy athleticism through the gaits of walking, jogging, and loping. Unlike English riding, for which riders “post,” or rise and sit in rhythm with each stride, the Western style and its large, comfortable saddles allow riders to sit through the entire jog.
Modern competitions in Western riding test more specialized skills as well. During barrel racing, riders compete to negotiate a series of turns around barrels in the shortest time possible. To measure roping abilities, riders attempt to lasso a steer at high speeds. All these nuanced events are designed with the same idea in mind: to replicate the tasks cowboys once needed to succeed at their herding responsibilities.