I can FEEL the difference in straightness and engagement between a horse trained correctly in dressage, and trained for western. It's not the same. I know that some western riders feel its the same, but it's not.
I've ridden a ton of horses. Horses trained by well known and winning western riders, by good HJ trainers, etc. I'm not saying western (or any other discipline) isn't working for balance and engagement, but in my extensive experience the straightness and engagement doesn't attain the same levels as a well trained second level and up horse. It doesn't have to be the same, but if you want a truly straight and engaged horse then learn dressage.
Disclaimer: I've never ridden a reining horse, so can't comment on the straightness/engagement oon well trained reiners.
Last edited by core; 05-29-2012 at 05:21 PM.