Anyone can learn to ride western style. Many people find it is easier than learning to ride with an ordinary English saddle as the design of the saddle offers more support, and the horse is trained to use smoother paces which are easier to sit to.
Come and find out for yourself the ease of riding a western trained horse, or how to train your own. Learn how western schooling can improve your horse’s way of going, and improve him for ordinary riding.
Valley Farm has a good selection of Western trained horses to suit all abilities and we offer instruction for everybody, adults or children, from total beginners, to advanced riders. It doesn't matter if you have never ridden a horse before. Our gentle horses will have you feeling confident in a short time.
We are also happy for you to bring your own horses to us for lessons. We have plenty of space for parking horseboxes.
What is Western Riding?
Western is a style of riding which evolved from the ranching and warfare traditions brought to the Americas by the Spanish Conquistadors. The equipment and style have changed slightly over time to meet the needs of the cowboy, but are still similar to the Spanish style of riding and Classical Dressage.
It is a disciplined, relaxed way of going in order to make hours in the saddle as comfortable as possible for both the horse and the rider. The horse is not ridden 'on the bit' with a tight rein, but is encouraged to carry itself in balance and is guided by small rein, leg and body movements.
Novice horses are generally worked using two hands with a snaffle or bitless bridle, known as a bosel. As the horses and riders become more advanced in their education it is usual to ride with only one hand on the reins of a curb bridle.
In much the same way as there are dozens of different sports that riders can take part in using English tack, there are many different western disciplines, which use slightly different types of tack and equipment and require slightly different riding styles. Some are exciting speed events, and others require high levels of trust between horse and rider in order to perform complicated moves.
One hour trails around our farm tracks and through our woods are a popular choice for those with some riding ability. Others may prefer instruction followed by a short trail ride.
For those who already ride, why not give Western a try. Discover the art of various aspects of Western. We hold regular class lessons on Thursdays, covering many aspects of Western Riding including, trail, roping, western games (like gymkhana), pleasure, horsemanship and reining (like dressage). Private lessons on a one to one can be arranged at a time to suit you and cover topics of your choice. We also do shared private lessons if you would like to ride with a family member, or friends, but are unable to make the regular group lessons.
If you are about to go on a ranch holiday in the States, we can teach you the basics before you go. In just a few lessons, we can teach you the basic principles of neck reining, backing up, sidepass, roll backs, and teach you about the saddlery so you can be well prepared.
Corporate groups can try Western Riding and/or calf roping (with our friendly wooden calf) in our floodlit Indoor School. Our Corporate Entertainment page has more details.
Throughout the year we hold regular non-affiliated shows and from time to time we have western horses for sale. Please check our Events and For Sale pages for details.
We offer western riding as an option for children's birthday parties, where they have a go at roping using a static horse and cow as well as playing western games with one of our patient ponies. See our parties page for more info.
The western saddle appears larger and heavier than the English. It is so designed in order to spread the riders weight more evenly over the horses back. Originally horses, like the cowboys that rode them, were expected to work long hours, so small saddles which might create pressure on the horses back were not practical.
Many people find that riding with a western saddle is more comfortable than with an English saddle. It is important that you find a saddle that fits you well, as western saddles are designed to offer you more support than English saddles, this means that you can sit in one for longer without becoming saddle sore. We have lots of styles and sizes of western saddle to choose from, so you are sure to find one to suit you.
From time to time we have western saddles for sale, so please ask Sarah if you are thinking of buying a western saddle for your own horse.
Can I use a western saddle to ride in the normal English lessons?
If you prefer to use a western saddle for any of our English lessons or hacks this can be arranged. Simply make sure you inform the office when you book in that you would like a western saddle, and add £6.00 to the price of the English lesson.
Please note that unless you are riding your own horse, and are over 18, for insurance purposes hard hats to the required standard must be worn for all types of riding. We have hats available to borrow.