Well.... I feel like it anyways! I got my first horse in the spring, a 19 year old mare. She is the best horse ever, very well trained, calm and kind. I got a western saddle and also have ridden bareback a lot. I feel a lot more comfortable bareback than on the leather saddle. So for the last 3 months I have ridden bareback. I have gone from not being able to even trot bareback (before I got her) to trotting and loping well. I love it and loping is just like flying! I did take a few lessons before I got her but they were in an english saddle and the two times I cantered I fell off because I was put over a jump at the same time. I didn't even know how to canter so I fell.
I've been riding in the saddle some now and I'm very balanced at the trot and it is comfortable. However the lope is terrible! I'm sure it is me - I must be giving her wrong signals and I pretty sure she's on the wrong lead. Even a slow lope usually throws me off and I'm grabbing for the horn. Berdi is patient, but I know she doesn't like it!
I am fine bareback and even if she gets on the wrong lead it doesn't seem that bad - I can ride it out till I can change it. I'm hoping to get a few western lessons in the future but in the meantime I guess I'll stick with bareback!
If you guys have any ideas or advice I would be glad to hear it!