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.
TOTALLY different purposes. The top image is a dressage saddle, designed for flatting, DESIGNED to keep you in contact with your horse. The bottom image is a jumping saddle, designed, as you say, to allow you to move away from your horse's back, to allow a good position over fences. There is a general-purpose English type of saddle but IMO if you want to jump and dressage you're better off going the two separate saddles. If you only want to jump, go a jump, and if you only want to dressage, go a dressage.
Same thing goes for Western saddles, there are saddles designed for specific purposes. Roping saddles, barrel saddles, etc. And EVERY SADDLE IS DIFFERENT. My Isabell rip-off dressage saddle is COMPLETELY different to my wintec 500 allpurpose which is COMPLETELY different to my crappy little wintec 100 jump. They are even different within types. Just google it!
I have ridden in both English and Western and was equally secure in both, just more comfortable in my dressage saddle, otherwise I'd look at getting a western for trails.
I realize that dressage is considered an english saddle but to me a dressage saddle is a dressage saddle. I can't imagine referring to a dressage saddle as an "english saddle" even though it fits in that category. In fact, any time I've ever heard someone refer to an english saddle, they were speaking of a H/J saddle. If they mean dressage, they always say dressage. Maybe it's a US thing vs Australian thing? I don't know.
Still a dressage saddle is flatter than a typical western saddle. Notice I'm saying typical, not all western saddles.
When the OP was asking about english versus western, I'm pretty they aren't thinking of dressage. The typical non-horsey person doesn't even know what dressage is, I assure you.
What most people refer to when they say english saddle is the 2nd saddle you are referring to. I've never seen a western saddle that is close to being that flat.
I realize people have different preferences. I didn't think the OP was talking about a preference. They are talking science. Which type of seat is going to hold a person in better?
That's why I specified for a total green rider who is looking to do nothing more than walk/trot, MOST people are going to find better balance in a western saddle. That is why most touristy type places for green riders always have some type of deep dished saddle like the typical western saddle.
It's not a matter opinion. It's physics. Having something curve up around your but is going to hold your but in better. Having a horn in front of you is going to be easier to hold you back than if there is nothing in front of you.
I mean, google english saddle and western saddle. Tell me which one looks like they can hold a beginner in easier.
YES there are deeper english saddles and flatter western saddles but that is getting too confusing for a beginner. The typical english saddle is a H/J saddle like your 2nd photo. The typical western saddle is deep dished with a horn.
Honestly, I think this is all the OP is asking.
Edit: I see the OP mentioned dressage, english and western and is a rider. I got this post mixed up. I was thinking of someone else who was new to horses and was asking what is going to be easier for balance.
I still have never seen a western saddle in US that was flatter than that dressage saddle you posted. The typical english saddle (hunter/jumper or dressage) is much flatter than the typical western. Not being contrary but I'd be interested in seeing a flatter western saddle. It's probably something I'd buy. As much as I love riding western, I love the close contact you get with an english saddle. A hybrid of both sounds like a dream.
As much as I love riding western, I love the close contact you get with an english saddle. A hybrid of both sounds like a dream.
I totally understand what you mean. I love my western saddle for trail riding but I do like having the contact with the english saddle, as well. After switching back and forth I feel a mile away from Dancer with my western saddle.