Growing up in Iceland I started out riding on Icelandic saddles and on the gaited Icelandic ponies so it's actually neither western nor english. Saddle looks like this -> http://svg.crowblanket.com/hestar/hnakkur.jpg
Very flat and you ride with long stirrups but I did mostly work on gaits and then a lot of trail riding. My favourite thing to do was herding horses from horseback. So much fun, especially when one or two would decide they wanted to go home and take off on a gallop and you had to go get them as fast as you could.
However now that I live in the UK I ride English because that's what's taught at the barn where I take lessons. I do some hacking and then schooling indoors. It's been really good to learn though, a lot more precise and really helps to be really aware of your body and what you're asking the horse to do.
However especially at the beginning when I was having a hard time with some of the things that were so new to me I couldn't help wonder how the women riding with me would do if they'd be stuck on a mountain somewhere and had to work with maybe 2-3 other people to drive a herd of 30 horses back to the farm going over really bad terrain and rivers etc. So I understand where you western riders are coming from. I've never ridden western but it would be interesting to try.