Originally Posted by Chickenoverlord
Think of that as directed toward everyone, lol. Western is (usuall) more pep robe to be ridden in a chair seat, and less emphasis on proper rider balance, in the lower levels. You are, IMO, more likely to fall English.
How does that make sense? I'd expect a well-balanced English rider to stay in the saddle through an "incident" MUCH longer than an unbalanced Western rider... so how does it make sense that the saddle would make more difference in your riding than how well-balanced your seat is? I'm not saying that you're wrong or right, but the logic as I understand it seems flawed.
I've ridden English since I was 11 (over 10 years) and until I bought a western saddle a couple of weeks ago I could probably count the number of times that I've ridden in a Western saddle on my fingers and toes. I guess there are pros and cons of each... but it comes down to what you feel most comfortable with.
Most folks that I know regard a western saddle as more secure and comfortable... the kind of thing that you want to ride out a buck or go on a long trail ride. The average western saddle holds you in more than the average English saddle, though we all know how widely western and English saddles vary!
Most western riders that I know don't know what to do with themselves when placed in an English saddle. I don't know if this is typical of most western riders, or if it has just happened to be the bunch that I've been around. They're used to the secure seat and having a horn in front of them, whether they use it or not. Put an English person in a western saddle though, and you're generally adding security. For this reason I think that the average English person would have a much easier time switching to western than the average western person would switching to English.
I feel weird and less secure in a western saddle because I have seldom ridden in one, but I think it'll change over time if I start doing it regularly. I'll never say that one style of riding is always better than another, but in general I think that it's best for people to learn their balance in an English saddle first. It seems as though it would be easier to get used to the more relaxed western position than to transition from that relaxed position to the more... don't really know how to say it... upright or forward position that an English saddle would put you in.
Basically, the culmination of all of those ramblings is to do whatever you want, but that there are differences that you should be aware of in both saddle style and riding style. If you have been riding "badly" (your words, not mine!!), then depending on your issues I would probably say that you should sort out your balance in an English saddle first. Those things are great for teaching body awareness and balance! However, there's nothing in the world wrong with deciding to go western. Heck, you can even start taking both types of lessons and seeing what you like best! Or pick one, and have an occasional lesson of the other.
Of course, if you have a specific discipline or goal in mind (you want to jump, run barrels, etc) then that'll pretty much make the decision for you. There's still no law that says you can't take another type of lesson once in awhile, but if you plan to jump then go with English lessons. If you want to run barrels, then a close contact saddle isn't the way to go!