Western riding can be as challenging and require as much balance as English riding. It depends on the discipline such as barrel racing, team penning, etc.
However, comparing an english saddle and a western saddle....a western saddle is dished. It's built to keep you in the saddle. The horn stops you from falling forward should the horse stop suddenly.
An english saddle is built to lift you OFF the saddle. It's made for jumping whether you jump or not. Your stirrups are shorter because you are constantly up and down.
So while western has its challenging disciplines, if you are looking to walk or trot across the ring, 99% of people are going to find a western saddle easier to balance, IF they've never ridden before. Obviously if one grows up riding English, they are going to find an English saddle easier. But strictly a green rider is going to find a deep dished seat easier to ride, be it a western saddle, Australian saddle, endurance trail saddle, whatever.
Put it this way, if a young child or a 90 year old was going to ride, which do you think would be easier for them? The large deep seat, or the smaller flat seat?
I sat in a western saddle recently and after 6 months of riding only english, the western saddle felt like a stinkin' recliner, lol. I really kind of miss the comfort of the western saddle. Honestly, I'll probably end up switching back eventually.
Also the stirrups are totally different. In Western you have thick, leather stirrups where in English you have smaller, thinner, steel stirrups.
Last edited by Heelsdown; 08-03-2011 at 01:09 AM.