I rode mostly English for years and years. I sat on my first horse age 4 years old.. Susie.. a chestnut mare with a roached mane and I ws bareback.. scared to death and addicted for life.
I was a B1 Pony clubber and I was a member of the Old Chatham Hunt and rode to hounds. I did some lower level Eventing. I did a lot of dresage when dressage was not so popular in the US.
My original instructor was from the UK and she laid a riding and horse foundation with labor and work like few do these days. I owned my own horses and facilities (two horses and a run in shed with pasture lot). She was the one who put me on "Susie.."
Fast forward years and years to my owning and operating a dairy farm (72 milking cows and 60 youngstock, stanchion barn, 180 acres owned, 250 acres rented and top 2x a day herd average in the county at 24,000 pounds per cow on pasture, hay, corn silage and grain, no hormones, LISA farm). I had to move cattle and used the horse and a German Shepherd dog for that in addition to using horses for checking crops and fixing fence. At this point the Dressage saddle and English riding no longer fit the task at hand and I switched to western.
Really found the biggest difference was in western you no longer held the horse between your hands and your legs.. you wanted the same balance and obedience as in dressage but with a longer frame. Still wanted the horse working off his hind quarters and often you needed to rely on the horse to have some 'cow' and outsmart the bovines to get 'em from here to there. Fascinating to be along for the ride while the dog and the horse worked together to move the cattle.
My first love is, and always will be, dressage. As an offshoot of this today I train dogs for formal obedience.
There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
) Dinosaur Horse Trainer