Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
Just some thoughts...
Most of us in the US that keep horses a long time--me, ~ 30 years--train our horses to ride both English and Western.
Western is a "style" identified by a heavier saddle which disperses your weight over a larger area of the horse's back, and typified by a curb bit meant to either stop the most ornary critter OR to use to halt and half halt with just your fingers. I believe that neck reining is a natural evolution of ANY type of riding where the horseman needs to use their right hand for something else, like a weapon, or a rope, and must rein only with the left. From my research it isn't exclusive to the Western United States and our colorful 19th century history, but it has become a stereotype.
The Western horse should be relaxed and the old cowboys that I had a chance to talk to many years ago assured me that a cowboy never trots his horse, just the walk to the lope and back again. They also told me that the preferred horse is on the short side so that the cowboy can easily swing aboard.
IMHO, we have had some poorly made modern Western saddles throughout my lifetime. The old "bucket" saddle had a triangular pommel below the horn, much like the McClellan saddle, and was deep from pommel to cantle. It was meant to stick you to it when you rode rough. Some modern models have been made too shallow and I have never cared for the blocky swells that we see so much today. It is also true that many of these modern saddles push you towards the cantle and can teach people an obvious chair seat. The old types encouraged you to reach down to the stirrups and in many antique photos cowboys look like they could step off their horse and onto a Dressage saddle bc their legs are long and fairly straight, lined up shoulder-hip-heel. You will also see them ride home in the stirrups.
My advice? Work this horse to be quiet and obedient and train to be a good trail horse.
Glad you have a horse to ride! =b