English Rider Boosts Skills With Western Riding

About Shona Hamilton-Higgins

Shona has owned horses and ridden English style all her life.  She had already been attending Western events at Sovereign for years before she even met her husband, Dan, in 2016.

The Challenge

Dan was not so keen on English riding, but loved the idea of being a cowboy which he had experienced when the couple went on a trekking holiday in Upstate New York in 2017.  When the opportunity came up to try a Western Experience Day in September 2020, Shona knew they would both love it.


The Discovery

English Rider Shona Hamilton-Higgins riding Western Style
English Rider Shona Hamilton-Higgins riding Western Style

The Western Experience Day was a real opportunity for Shona to look at her riding and make adjustments. From the side-lines, we quietly assessed and made suggestions to Shona as she rode.

It had been a good ten years since Shona had any type of riding lesson when she signed up for our Western Experience Day. In her own words she freely admits that she had acquired some bad habits, describing it as ”just like when you pass your driving test then go it alone”.  We all remember what that was like don’t we? The bad habits soon creep in.

English Style Rider Learns From Western Experience Day

When asked about her experience, Shona said:

“I noticed my legs were hanging differently on each side with one leg hanging inwards due to my uneven pelvis so I worked on getting myself straight in the saddle. Initially, I had approached the jog as if it were a working trot which it really isn’t. It doesn’t need to be the same pace as a working sitting trot so there was less bouncing around like you get with English riding.”

She went on to say:

“I worked on my canter transitions as I tend to override the transitions, so David helped me to do less in the saddle and relax my seat.

If I could draw a comparison, riding Western is much like dressage but a lot more laidback in terms of the pace and the outline of the horses. The horses at Sovereign are so finely tuned that they make light work of riding in a different style to what you’re used to.

You cannot compare Sovereign Quarter Horses to a typical English riding school because they are in a different league. Sovereign Quarter Horses is an incredibly professional training facility run by world class riders in their discipline and you have the opportunity to ride some exceedingly well trained horses which allows you to focus on your riding. You learn so much from the horses as well as the trainers at Sovereign Quarter Horses.”

Shona and Dan loved the Western Day so much that they keep coming back.  This happens a lot following Western Day Experiences.


They both attended a second event in January 2021. Then some of their friends decided to have a go and so Shona and Dan joined them, making this their third Western Experience Day in June 2021.



After Sales Service

It was a pleasure to observe Shona riding.  Over her many years riding English she has acquired some real skill but, as with anything there are always things to improve.  We are always very happy to help English riders improve their riding skills in the same way.  English riders are very welcome to enjoy our Western Experience Days, take riding lessons and, where appropriate, attend our regular training clinics including Ranch Riding, Trail, Horsemanship and Showmanship.

The Sovereign team are on hand to help every step of the way as often or as little as needed by both horse and rider wherever they may be in their skills building journey.



“After the first Western Day all we could do was talk about it and watch Western riding videos. Taking part in several events significantly grew hubby’s confidence and we now have a shared passion that we can enjoy together. What’s more the Western Days made me more aware of how I sat, moved and how effective I was being in the saddle. It was excellent value for money, great fun and a wonderful day out.”


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