Loping Bill’s Blog

This is the place that we air our views on what is going on  in the the world of Western Riding at the moment or, perhaps  to offer some thoughts on particular aspects of  versatility.

It does not run in quite the same way as some blogs in that we’re not using blogging software - not because we are mean but we’ve tried it and it has not been producing the result we want.

So, we invite your comments - really, tell us if you agree or  if you think think we’re nuts - we want to know. But send your comments to us via  our “contact us” page. We promise to post  what you  say whatever it is: although, of course, we do reserve the right to edit offensive stuff.

Spade Bit – friend or foe?

A while back we were at a show for versatile horses and I was with my friend who was riding with a spade bit. The horse he was riding had been rescued from an unhappy life and had been retrained by Stuart Powell to accept western cues. But one of the main problems with her was that her previous owners had abused a snaffle bit to such an extent that the bars in her mouth were ruined and she was completely headstrong – unstoppable.

….for the  full blog, go to

Spade bit blog

Do I need a Quarter Horse for Western Riding?

... it’s a question that gets asked a lot and the short answer is: “No”.

Certainly, the American Quarter Horse is the largest and best known of the western breeds (Appaloosa, American Paint Horse and Morgan Horse are a few of the others) but you don’t need one to ride western: it’s the philosophy – the way of going – that counts and if your horse has the characteristics that are needed, its breed is irrelevant.

… for the full blog go to

Quarter Horse blog

Bewl Water Trail Ride

You have to be an early bird to enjoy life with a horse. Even when, like me, you are fortunate to have him in livery and someone else doing the dirty work at dawn; any kind of event with him involves getting up with the lark and getting him aboard for a haul off somewhere. And after a hard night out with the rain sipping down, it’s not hard to wonder about the sanity of it all.

It was one of those days.

… for the full blog go to

Bewl Water Blog

The Western Hat

Early on in my riding career, I had nipped down to the yard one summer evening for a quick workout with my horse. Not planning on doing anything strenuous, I’d left my hat at home. It all went smoothly enough and the last thing I remembered before I woke up in hospital was that we had been walking quietly back to the stable – giving the boy a stroke of the neck for a good session. To this day, I don’t know what happened but I had obviously landed on my head/face because I was concussed and my face was a mess (well, it was never a picture, but could do without the scars and third eyebrow that now give it “character”)..

It was a hard way to learn a lesson …..    for the full blog go to

Stetson Blog

What to do with a Versatile Horse on a Winter’s day…

It was -3c and we’d had a fall of about 6 inches of snow overnight. Winter had been kind to us so far and, it being the off season, we’d been doing a fair bit of schooling in between rides out.

But this particular Sunday morning, none of that was possible. The main arena was just covered in snow and the road away, being on a hill, wasn’t somewhere we wanted to negotiate in these conditions.

….for the full blog go to

Winter's Day

The Western Saddle

To “English” riders, western riding may seem to be just a matter of putting a big saddle on your horse, slapping a Stetson on your head, uttering a carefree “yee-hah” and you’ve got it done.  Well, of course not. But can you ride “western” without a western saddle?

… for the full blog go to

Western Saddle

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The History of Western Riding              15th June 2012

I guess we all know that the horse has been around as man's working partner pretty much since the year dot. These days, horses are more in evidence as pets and the only real working use they are put to is, of course, by the North American cowboy, the Mexican vaquero and South American gaucho.

… for the full blog go to

History of Western Riding

Use of a Bosal for training the Western Horse     22nd July 2012

The bosal is another piece of kit that you rarely find on anything other than a western trained horse. In fact it’s a key stage in getting the western horse to work the way it does – particularly in having it give you its head and respond to neck reining which is the feature that most “English” trained riders first notice (once they’ve realised that there’s more to it than a big saddle and a cowboy hat!).

for the full blog go to

Bosal Training

Equiblues 2012

It’s that time of the year again! If your heart beats to a country rhythm; if there’s anything in you that savours the sight of a good working horse or if you have the teensiest passion for Americana, the only place to be in Europe for the next week is Equiblues.

… for the full blog go to

Equiblues 2012

10th August 2012

FDR was right....

... when he said: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses ....”

Of course, FDR made this famous remark in the course of his inaugural address and I suspect he had something very different in mind than the collywobbles many horse riders suffer. But, if you think about it, the sentiment he expressed back in 1932 applies just as much today as it did then.

…. for the full blog go to     

30th September 2012

FDR was right...

Split Reins

16th October 2012

I was doing a Western Riding demonstration a little while ago and, inevitably, a question came up for which I had no answer (ten year olds have that way about them, don’t they?): “Why has your horse got two long reins and my pony only has one short one?”

…for the full blog go to

Split Reins

7 deadly sins

20th  October 2012

I saw an advertisement a while back that offered the advertiser’s views on the most pernicious aspects of its particular field of interest and it led me to wondering about my pet hates. And what use is a blog if you can’t have a moan now and again. So, at the risk of appearing a Grumpy Old Git, here goes (in no particular order)….

… for the full blog go to

7 deadly sins

Bucking Rolls

5th November 2012

It was a 3-horse relay race. Nice big arena with a good surface and we could give the horses their head. A prospect that makes your blood fizz. People I would normally team with either weren’t there or were committed to riding with others and so I was happy to run the middle horse with a couple of others we’d never teamed with before. Not a problem, they were both good riders on good horses.

… for the full blog go to

Bucking Rolls

Manoeuvres that define the Western Horse

Part 1 - The Sliding Stop

It was the sight of a sliding stop that hooked me in the first place. Like most people, I had tried horseback riding fairly early on in life but follow-my-leader round the local riding school didn’t really light any fires. And I’ve always been addicted to adrenalin.

… for the full blog go to   

Sliding Stop

Spurs - love ‘em or hate ‘em?

19th November 2012

If a horse can feel a fly sitting anywhere on his body, why should he need spurs to cue him? Well, of course, the short answer is that for most purposes, he doesn’t need them at all. Unless, that is, he is of a cussed disposition or, more likely, he’s been abused by a bungling rider to the extent that he’s stopped paying any attention to his rider’s heels.

for the full blog go to


Manoeuvres that define the Western Horse

Part 2 - The Rollback

7th  December 2012

….. I discovered this early on in our relationship when things did not always turn out quite as planned. Not so much western riding as cowboy capers. This time, we’d found ourselves on a ledge of ground about 6 feet up and no more than 18” wide (yes, really, it was that narrow). Don’t ask how we’d got there, it was just one of those things that happened in those days. “What do I do now”: I asked Lesley Mepstead- Powell, who happened to be on hand. “Jump him down”: she said.

for the full blog go to


Extreme Horsemanship

6th January 2013

… I believe the concept is brilliant and is what versatile western riding is all about. But it’s not “extreme” (unless you happen to be reading this wondering what points you will get for your choice of rhinestone encrusted shirt) and it’s not “racing” (unless you ride a horse that’s happiest rolling peanuts along the arena floor).

…. for the full blog go to

Extreme Horsemanship

Top U.S. Extreme competitor Mark Bolender

Western Dressage

5th March 2013

Here we go again. Yet another “new” discipline harking back to an infatuation with the “Old West” (to pull in the romantics) and then, after dressing up a horse and its rider in western gear, offering nothing that really demonstrates the true qualities of the western horse.

…. for the full blog go to

Western Dressage