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Riders focus on a style of riding developed on the cattle ranches of western America. Photo: SUPPLIED

Hauraki riders roped in to western style

Horse riders in the Hauraki Plains and Thames Valley may be excited to learn about a different style of riding available right on their doorstep.

The Hauraki Western Riders Club, established in 2019, is based at the Omahu Valley Sports Arena in Puriri. Its point of difference is the style of riding.

“English riding is definitely more popular and common around New Zealand,” club president Laurie Webb says.

“Western horses tend to move with a longer, lower gait and head carriage. Western riders ideally ride with lighter rein contact and horses are encouraged to move independently and naturally.”

The western style of riding was developed in the West of the United States of America on ranches, open country and working with cattle.

The most obvious difference between the two disciplines is the attire – western saddle, the clothing worn and the cowboy hat.

The club has members from across the peninsula and the plains. They meet on the first Sunday of the month, and they focus on a variety of skills and activities; among them cattle work, horsemanship, cowboy dressage, western performance, trail, formation riding, games, trekking, cowboy challenge, weekend camp overs and training clinics.

It’s a fun, relaxed atmosphere, and Laurie says plenty of families enjoy the low-stakes, all-abilities-welcome nature of the club.

“We had some people that were interested in that style,” Laurie says. “We saw a need for it around our community and local area.”

Member Sharon Meek summed up the club’s atmosphere thusly: “camping together, eating together, laughing together, riding together, helping each other in the arena are all components of the companionship which we have and this all makes a successful clinic and a thriving club.”

The club currently has 40 members on its books, but more are always welcome, Laurie says.

“We cater for a wide variety of abilities. Anyone is welcome – whether they have western gear or not they can come along and join in.”

To find out more about the Hauraki Western Riding Club, contact

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Journalism funded by NZ on Air