I ask this because,
Yesterday I rode a fabulous $20,000 jumping/dressage mare, who has competed in barrel racing, cross county and cattle sorting. She is a Hano/Percheron cross and I personally don't like the way she looks or rides. She is not dead broke, very headstrong at times, and tries to push through the bit. She is owned by a trainer at a very nice stable near my home. I rode this mare for about 2 hours through some trails. We did w/t/c and I did ride in a western saddle since my english saddle is far too narrow for her. But I did ride her in her regular bit/bridle.
Now what I didn't like about her, was that she is SO well trained. The slightest movement of my legs and she sped up, or the smallest move of my body, she would move with. I know most people like having a well trained horse like that for competing, but is it needed for someone who just trail rides?
My mare is an 8 year old OTTB and every bit of trail riding that she has done, is because of me. She was broke to ride, but knew nothing when it came to normal riding, so I taught her what she knows. She doesn't know who to collect herself(I don't think) and she doesn't turn on a dime, but she is perfect for me. She is very forgiving if I'm off balance or bouncing around bareback. She whoas and does everything I need her to do. She really impressed me yesterday when she took an 8 year old beginner rider on the trails yesterday. The little girl rode in a western saddle but no stirrups and granted she did have a gag bit on, she listened perfectly. The little girl bounced around and was pretty rough on her mouth, but my OTTB just kept on going, it's like she knew exactly what she was suppose to do and what she couldn't even attempt.
So my question is, I feel completely comfortable and confident riding my girl in english or western or bareback, I have only fallen off of her once, but that was my own stupidity for riding sideways lol. Now my back is never straight or shoulders back, my hands probably aren't terribly quiet(I'm always doing something), I know my legs aren't in the right position, but my heel is down
So how important is all of the "proper" riding?