Thinking of giving Western riding a try? Western rider David Deptford explains what you need to know.

There are many benefits to riding Western, and here are just a few.

First, if someone’s learning to ride, they’ll be able to find their balance faster if they ride Western.

This is because you ride with a more independent seat and use less contact down the reins compared to other disciplines.

The horses used in Western are also calm and relaxed, which helps the learning process.

If you’re trying out Western alongside another discipline, you’ll find the benefits overlap into each.

For example, lateral work is important in Western so your horse learns to move backwards, sideways and forwards, which improves their strength.

If you fancy trying out a Western exercise on your horse, a good one to do is side pass. To do this to the left, follow these steps:

Step 1 – transfer your weight to your right side and sit on your right seat bone.

Step 2 – put your right leg behind the girth.

Step 3 – take your left leg off your horse’s side so there’s no pressure there.

Step 4 – hold a neutral contact down your reins to stop your horse moving forwards.

Step 5 – apply a small amount of pressure with your right leg and push your horse sideways.

Step 6 – when asking him to stop, just take the pressure off your right leg.

Start by teaching your horse to do just one step first, then move on to asking for two and eventually more.

Once you’ve got the basics right, you can progress to doing this over a pole and side passing your horse across the length of it.

Where can I learn Western riding?

There are a range of different centres around the country that offer Western training and competitions.

You’ll be able to find licensed establishments online. My yard in Cambridgeshire offers horses that you can try Western on, so you don’t even need to own a horse.
If you’d like to give it a go, visit the website at