I prefer riding English and enjoy doing hunter/jumper. I am considering a 15 year old paint gelding for lease and he's been under an English saddle before. The problem is, he's fully spur trained. I laid the reins on his neck, had my hands on my hips, and steered him around with just my legs and butt. He does not stop dead on a dime when you give him the whoa cue but could this sort of thing have a negative impact for doing equitation flat and green hunter? With his age I don't want to do anything over 3 feet.
This is all assuming he LIKES jumping. I've only been on him for about 15 minutes to try him out. I'm bringing an general purpose saddle and a snaffle bit to try him out with direct reining and light contact on his mouth. The curb bit they have for him is pointless since he doesn't need it.
Hi, OTTB - back on the subject of your actual question -
I understand what you are trying to say - you need to know if he will respond to a snaffle for HJ riding and you are asking if anyone else basically has had experience with taking a more 'hands free' type horse and using them in a discipline where more 'direct rein' is needed and whether or not this would work?
I guess that would depend on how 'finished' this particular horse is - no one here would know and you won't either until you just get on and do a trial ride - get the owner's input and ask a bunch of questions - try him out both ways, english and western and then see if he is something you'd want to invest some time in and make sure you and the owner are on the same page with goals for this horse.
I've trained many a horse over the years that pick up the seat and leg cues really fast, but are no way trained up in the bridle yet - when you mentioned his little quirk about stopping, it simply makes me think he isn't a finished horse and maybe some time with the basics in a snaffle could be beneficial. I understand what others here worry about and that is the 'untraining' that might happen bringing a horse like this back to direct rein - it takes a long time and lot's of hard work to finish out a WP horse but then we don't know where this horse is at any level, and then if the owner doesn't mind and wants her horse to have a career in some jumping to make him more versatile, then that his their choice as well.
The horse is 15 years old, so if he is good as a WP prospect or even decent at the western equitation level and then learns a bit of english that could be used in a hunter over fences class, well I don't think that it could hurt a horse at this age - here in TX, for a horse that can do all the classes in 4H, we'd pay upwards of $7500/8000 for an older horse that can do a little of everything safely with our children - so the owner might have her own goals/reasons for leasing her guy out for english riding.
A good trial ride will give you a hint as to where he stands - back to your question, I've seen it go both ways - if he is really finished and trained up WP style, it could take months to go back to direct contact. If he is somewhere in the middle, not really 'finished' in any discipline, learning something new certainly won't hurt him - he is older and I think it would just be a matter of how much time you want to invest. I think it would be easier with an english trained horse, but if you like how this guy rides and the owner likes how you ride him, then it is really up to what makes you guys happy in the long run.