11 Main Types of Western Riding (Video Examples)

Are you a fan of western riding? Did you know that there are many games of western riding that you can partake? We’ll talk about the different types of western riding.

These ways come as disciplines. So, expect them to make you ride your horse in a given manner.

Western riding ways come from using a western saddle. It will make you and your horse comfortable for many hours. Also, there won’t be any chance to slip off from your horse.

You won’t see more of western riding on a ranch. Expect to see more of it on race tracks. So, let’s look at the 11 types of western riding.

1. Western Pleasure

With this type of riding, every participant rides the horse at the same time. During this activity, the race members can do things like jogging, walking, and loping.

So, as one rides, the horse shows that it can make accurate movements. So, the rider will do a steady balance on the horse using some beats and paces.

As the rider does perform the paces, the horse remains upright. The best horse should do this riding using a level neck. Also, it should make an easy stride.

Quarter horses with strong lower forelegs can make the best western pleasure. They’ll only need a bit of training.


2. Cutting

When a rider cuts, the horse will block a specified cow in the game. First, the racer and horse will pick on a cow from the herd. Remember, the picking will happen even if it tries to get back to the pack of 10 to 20 cows.

One will have two minutes to pick on the cow or cows. After removing it from the crowd, the racer and horse will try as much as they can to prevent the cow not to go to the herd.

It can have 4 participants. 2 will prevent the cow from getting to the herd. The other two will make the cool of the pack.

This riding will suit a rider and horse that can get a good balance. Also, one should trust the horse to do the best in the game.


3. Reining

This competition looks more like English riding. Also, it has many guided activities. They entail stops, circles, spins, and lead changes. Here, the ride will show the agility of a horse.

With the stops, the front part of the horse should be moving as the back legs slide. The head and neck should be lower. Spins need the horse to pivot very fast.

The circles happen at lopes. Remember, the speed of the lopes depends on the size of the ring. Lead changes need the horse to change the lead in the middle of the space.

Remember, the racer and horse should have a high level of accuracy. At the same time, the horse should appear easy and happy to give out the best outcome. Also, it should be fast and make strong turns.


4. Team Penning

It’s a timed event. Here, there are three riders. These riders must pick three to five steers from a herd.

After the picking, the riders should take the horses to a small pen within 50 seconds. After every steer is inside the cell, the controller of the game will close the gate. Then the fastest team will be the winner.

Remember, team penning will suit you if you love the aspect of teamwork. One should also love to do many things at a time and think wisely.

Also, the game has a variation called ranch sorting. Well, here, two riders move cows from one pen to another. Every cow has to move to a cell within 60 seconds.


5. Barrel Racing

Here, the horse and the rider go around three barrels placed in a rectangle. Each racer should loop every barrel that looks like a cloverleaf before leaving the space.

The scores will depend on the racer. But turning and other controls can affect the score.

A horse has to have a powerful haunch for speed. Also, it’s good for body balance. So, with these specs, it’s easy for the horse to win the game.

Pro barrel racing is only open to females. Men can only do this in youth competitions.

Well, if you love speed, then you’ll love barrel racing too. If you also have a light seat, you will win.


6. Trail Riding

It’s one of the most common ways of western riding. The ride entails moving away from one place to the fields or mountains. It also means an event where riders compete, and there’s a winner.

The aim is to show how a rider and the horse can work together. So, if you see yourself and the horse as a team and can move around the best lane in a race track, then go for the race.

In these trails, you’ll meet problems in the way. You’ll need to cross a bridge, logs or make turns or tight angles. Also, the horse should move in every direction when you direct it.


7. Gymkhana

This riding comes from competitions or races on horseback. It’s suitable for those people who love teamwork and can live without fear. You should also have a way to manage your and horse balance.

You’ll see this game amongst children. Also, Gymkhana is at 4-H competitions, but people play it in separate lanes.

Here, you can also find other western riding games. Some are like barrel racing, pole bending, raising flags, staking racing, among others. There are no complex rules for these games.

While in this race, you should wear a long sleeve western shirt with a collar. It should have many fun colors.


8. Pole Bending

Here, the horse and rider will weave some patterns around six poles. Each pole is at least 6 meters apart.

The pair will enter the space while riding as fast as they can. After that, the team will take a sharp turn to the left around the post.

So, from here, the rider will find a way through the poles and then weave them again. Then, the winner is the one who completes the activity as fast as possible. Remember, it’s a race that suits people who love speed.

This game suits riders who love speed and can stick with their horses even in rapid changes in direction. The horse should be a good listener. It should be one that can perform and run fast if you tell it to do so.


9. Roping

Among all the western riding games, this one needs the highest level of teamwork. The horse will keep tracking a running calf. Then the rider will throw a rope on the animal, come off the horse and tie it down.

It’s also a game that suits a person who can balance and aim well with the lasso. The game happens in three ways. Please take a look at them:

Team roping. It entails two riders. A header to rope the calf and a healer ties the animal’s legs.

Calf roping. Here, one rider ropes the calf, comes off the horse and ties three legs fast.

Breakaway roping. It’s different from calf roping but here, the rope breaks, but the rider won’t come from the horse. The timer stops after the rope breaks, then the one with the fastest time will be the winner


10. Mounted Drill

If you love teamwork and are creative while riding, then this game will suit you. It involves 4 to 20 horse riders. The racers and horses will move around carefully to the bit of the music with their flags up.

Each will make their music pattern. The winner will be the one with proper formation, on time, and excellent riding skills. Also, how the crowd responds will determine the winner.

Every rider should have a matching uniform. The cover on the horse’s tack should be the same as the rider’s cloth. Some other games will need all the horses in the team to have the same skin color.


11. Goat Tying

In this game, riders race on the horse as they head to a goat tied on a line that is 10 feet long. After that, one will turn the goat to either side and tie three of the goat’s legs together.

Then, the rider will stay away for six seconds. It’s when one will untie the goat.

So, if a goat frees itself before the rider unties it, the competitor is taken out of the game. The racer will lose points for handling the goat without care.

This game suits those who are acrobats since one should dismount while on the run. One should have enough power. Speed also is key in this game.

The horse should never fear goats. Also, the horse should keep going fast as the racer plans to go off the saddle.



Western riding comes in many ways. You’ll find that there are many of them in the U. S. A. Some forms are more famous than others. But either way, you’ll still have more fun.

Also, the races help to show the aspect of teamwork between you and your horse. The best one among all the ridings is the trail riding.

So, have you tried any of these types of western riding with your horse? What was your experience? Feel free to reach to us and share your thoughts.

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