Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
Well, the 2 are quite different as there is generally alot more contact involved with english riding.In an english saddle, the rider is positioned further up on the horse's shoulders than in a western saddle, where the rider is closer to the center of the back. There is no cavesson on a western bridle & alot less straps & buckles involved lol.
I like western saddles better as I do alot of long-hour riding (trails, mountains, etc) & they're alot more comfortable to be in over such a period of time. You can also carry more gear with you.
As for seat size, it is slightly different (about 2 inches. For ex: I ride a 14 inch western and a 16 inch english). Measuring is pretty much the same for both saddles. Western saddles do have gullet widths, you just have to be sure that the saddle sits evenly all across the horse's back and that it doesn't pop-up in the back. There are types of western saddles that are very light weight such as Wintec and Abetta.
As for breaking,i like western because there's alot more involved with western tack & more for the horse to get used to. Also, you're a bit more secure in a western because of the high cantle & horn. But this is all a matter of opinion. With a western cinch, you have more leverage when tightening the saddle than with buckles on an english girth. But english saddles are smaller, so if your horse is more nervous you could try with the english first.
The main difference between the 2, as said before is english has more contact. Alot of western horses are trained to respond with very little pressure (such as neck reining), which in the "old days" allowed the cowboys to sit back & relax but also work ropes & cattle with one hand while only needing their other to direct the horse.
The events are different as well, in that western events are more speed events/cattle events such as barrel racing, roping, steer wrestling, poles, etc... and the english is based more on form & performace (show jumping, dressage, cross-country, etc..). Reining is a western event that is sort of like english, in that it is based on the horse & rider's performaces combined. THe rider has to put the horse through lead changes, sliding stops & turns without showing that he's giving the horse any direction. The good ones do this without any bridle on & sometimes without any tack at all! (look up Stacy Westfall on youtube.com ;))
I like cutting as well, which is a cattle event where the horse has to use his "cattle sense" alone to keep a certain calf cut off from the herd. It's one of very few horse events that is based on the horse's own natural talent & not necessarily the rider's.
"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly." www.wildestheartart.com