I don't jump, but I like Littauer's theory of jumping - teach the horse to jump, then let the horse do so. I've often wondered if some
horses might not jump better equipped like Mia when I ride her in my 'jump' saddle, using one hand and slack in the reins, allowing her to decide how
to do what I've asked:
But at 12 & 55, Mia and I are too old to experiment with jumping in western reins! And it sounds like the Italian rider has answered the question, at least for some horses.
The western saddle robs the rider of some of the feel of the horse. What I hadn't fully appreciated, though, is that it "robs" the horse of some of the feel of the rider...and Mia doesn't mind the theft! Comparing the jump saddle with the western, she rides about the same sitting in the western as she does in two-point with the jump saddle. I suppose if I had thought about it, it is like carrying a 50 lb pack with 1 inch straps, then changing to 2 inch straps. And sitting in the saddle is much easier on my back than staying in two-point the whole time.
I had seen some of that on the few times I rode her in our Circle Y, but what really surprised me was how well she turns in this saddle. There is a lot of flare to the front of the bars. In turn, she moves her shoulders much better in a tight turn - better than she does in an English saddle.
In some ways, I think my heart will always lie with the English/Australian saddle and the forward seat as taught by Littauer and Chamberlin. But I'm pretty sure that if I asked Mia, she would tell me to toss that western beast on her back! Either that, or tell me to trim down to my 20 year old, all running no weightlifting days, when I weighed 135 lbs instead of 175!
Time takes its toll on us all, and I reckon my odds of choosing the Martin saddle are better than my odds of shedding 40 lbs. But I think I'll keep both my Aussie-style saddle and my little jump saddle. My job now is to learn how to use the western saddle to its full advantage.