Originally Posted by AQHSam
Is this one of the differences between western and english? My last western instructor (loosely referenced, it was an experienced rider who gave me advice) always told me to keep my legs off the horse until a leg command was given...
AQHSam, in a word, yes. I think.
On the rare times I ride in our Circle Y saddle, the shape of the saddle prevents me from having contact with my lower leg unless I twist it in. I learned to ride on a horse who spooked or jumped sideways a lot, while using either an English or Australian saddle, so I like to have my legs wrapped as far around the horse as possible. And I think that agrees with all the books I have on English riding, both jumping and dressage - the side of your calf lightly against the side of the horse: "always in soft contact with the sides of the horse; no great effort required to keep them there
" - Riding and Schooling Horses, by Harry Chamberlin
Trooper is a ranch horse. He was also viciously spurred on a ranch he was briefly loaned to just before we got him. He still has the scars. He interprets lower leg contact as 'speed up'. Since I always ride with lower leg contact...well, I have to adjust when riding Trooper. 95% of his riding is with my daughter, and she uses the 'no contact unless I want something from you' approach - as she was taught to by a couple of western riding instructors. I don't have any good books on western riding, but I know she was taught to do it that way.