Originally Posted by Rebelwithacause
Still new to this forum and new to the " horse world" in general.
I am currently working with a trainer (I do not have my own horse, am using her TWH mare) to learn proper technique, form and become a better all around rider.
My question is: which do you prefer, English or Western? Or Western vs saddle seat (not sure what the exact name is )?
Why do you prefer one over the other? Do you find that it is more location specific ( I.e. You live in an area that trains for one discipline over the other or one is more popular than the other?)
I am open to trying both, just getting a feel for what the "other side" is like. I am still pretty new to learning Western, so I am looking for info :)
3 pages of comments and you're likely to get more. I'm not going to bother reading them, because I can tell you what the bulk of them will say. Basically it's a question of what kind of riding do you plan to do.
(Oh, and "English" is a gross misnomer....that "style" of saddle was of German/Hungarian origin...created for military use, which turned out to be blessing in battle and a curse on campaign, but that's a different story). In Europe it's Dressage, Jump, etc..... not "English". At least not when I was riding over there in the 60's.
Obviously if you want to shows for dressage, jumping, etc or if you want to join your local fox hunting crowd for a day of running with the hounds then you'll want to use the associated (and often required by rules) European style saddle. If you want to take up roping, penning, cutting, barrel racing, etc...., or work cattle, then you'll want the appropriate "Western" style saddle (although it's origins trace back to Spain, and even beyond, I guess we can still say Western since it's the western area of that part of the world
). Of course penning can be done in a stock saddle (i.e. The Australian saddle), but you don't see it much in the US.
Now the rest of this will almost certainly not apply to you, BUT I will make this qualification anyway (just in case). Regardless of what kind of riding you elect to do (they all have their own appeal). If the day should ever come (it does not for 99% or all riders, but it can happen) that you fall on your head (or get kicked there)
and as a result decide to take riding to the ultimate level (no, it's not the Olympics or some World championship) and do long distance riding (no, I'm not talking "endurance") where you load up everything you'll have on your horse and ride for 100 miles a week (with a couple of days off) for weeks and months then do not, for the sake of your horse, go with a saddle that uses the European style tree (or frame if you prefer). Get a saddle that has two very important (but not the only) features. It fits your horses back (something you should make sure any saddle does) and it displaces the weight across greatest number of square inches across your horse's back. The European saddles, e.g. "English" style (and traditional Australian stock saddles) do not do this, which is why they became such a problem during campaigns and why in the mid 1800's the British military came up with the UP (Universal Pattern) saddle which design is still used to by the military today.
Not saying you have to get a UP saddle. Just get one which has a tree/frame which spreads the weight over a large area (there are some that cover more than a UP saddle). It's much easier on your horse and will significantly reduce your chances of giving a sore back (it's no fun being 100's of miles from home and hold up for a week or longer while your mounts back recovers). It was only by great good luck that I never ran into that problem, but only because I came form an old horse family where some of them had and I learned form them. As for what style of riding to do if your "going the distance" that will be determined by what is most comfortable for you, riding a huge part of each day, 4-6 days in a row in that saddle.
Of course there are other considerations, such as weight carried, but this topic is on saddles and style of riding.