Late to the game here…
I started riding at 3 and I rode in whatever the adults put me in, which was sometimes western because that is how they rode, but more often than not it was just bareback.
Everyone where I lived rode western and laughed at anything other than, even my bareback riding, so that was the norm.
At 12 or 13 my mom dug out an old (old!) English saddle of hers from way back and told me she was going to give me some lessons (she was trying to revisit her english years from her own childhood.)
Hated it. Saddle was 100 times too big and meant to fit a fin backed horse, not my plump tabletop Morgan mare, who had the worst high leg action and fast trot to boot because she had been driving horse. Plus a person really can’t teach what they don’t know so it was a disaster.
Ugh! Swore I would never suffer the bruises upon bruises ever again.
A few years later we moved to an all English, pony clubbing, HJ, foxhunting and eventing area. So now I was laughed at for my western saddle and attire.
I was of an age where I didn’t really want to stick out and draw attention so decided to give it another try, this time from a qualified instructor with proper fitting saddles on well trained horses.
I swear I heard harp music and the clouds parted for a sunbeam to shine down upon me! It was almost as good as riding bareback in terms of communication and feel, but more secure. Riding English fit me like a glove and made me feel like I had sprouted wings, so I never looked back! Over the years from time to time I have had to sit in a few western saddles and they feel so clunky. Like there is a wall between me and the horse….. I can’t tell what they are thinking or feeling, or if they are bunching their muscles for something like a spook fit or a jump or anything. Makes me feel like a sitting duck on something I can‘t read.