Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
Both western saddles I own make it hard to have any contact with the lower leg. One needs to intentionally bring the lower leg against the horse, and it would be uncomfortable to hold it there constantly. It is quite different from the English/Australian saddles I've used.
Some horses won't mind the feel of the lower leg, and others can panic. Our Appy had been viciously spurred in the sides and still has scars 5 years later. He was very sensitive about being touched there, but eventually got used to it.
None of my horses have become upset about switching from western (what they were used to) to an English saddle. Switching my mare from several years of English/Australian to a western saddle seemed to puzzle her for about 10 minutes, and then she seemed happier in the western saddle. I'm sure others would prefer English, but it doesn't seem to make a big difference to any horse I've swapped saddles on. Just a few minutes of "Hmmm...that is different" and then they get on with being ridden. Having a saddle that fits is more important than what style of saddle!
Using contact vs no contact with a bit would get a bigger reaction from my horses than saddle type or leg use.
"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."