Thanks, that clarifies things a bit.
Yes indeed, there are nutcases in every discipline. I am sort of relieved to find out that it's not a general rule the behavior that I noticed.
I'll do some more net research on the curb bit, not quite sure I understand how that functions.
Overall my first impression about the western riding was that it is much better and with a practical foundation both for rider and horse. The loose rein, the relaxed position of the horse and so on. Even the saddle looks so much friendlier.
However the more I research the more I find that as usually, when people forget what they started from, they exaggerate and do all they can to win. It saddens me deeply to find (from all over the internet, including this forum actually) about certain practices for forcing the horse to exaggerate their natural gaits and such.
Kinda same thing in dressage, just looks different.
Since I started riding quite late and I am also inconsistent in my training (cannot ride daily) I doubt I'll ever compete in anything. However, the more I read and find, the..more I wonder if there even is a discipline that does not force and melt the horse into something very close to abuse when it reaches top competition levels. Anything, racing, barrel racing, western pleasure, Spanish dressage...it starts out as a beautiful idea but seems to finish on a very rotten top.
Sorry, I got sad :)
On a happier note, your horse breeds are among most talented and beautiful I have seen. :)
I agree with you, especially the part I put in bold. It seems like when the competition gets tough, it becomes about money and winning and not about enjoying the horse or caring about his health and well being. Sigh!
I ride western, but just on the trails and out in the woods. The saddles are very secure, and if you find the right one, very comfortable for horse and rider. I almost always ride on a loose rein. The only time I usually pick up contact with the mouth is when I go faster than a walk and I want some collection.
Bolting has never really been an issue. If one should bolt, I just turn him around in a circle. You could literally sit a horse right back on his haunches if he tried to run off with you in a curb, but I would never want to do that! But that's the control you have over the horse. I would be more afraid of a horse bolting with me in a snaffle, because then you have very little in the form of brakes. The horse respects the bit and you have to use it very little. It's like having power steering and power brakes so to speak.
A curb is not meant to have constant contact or the horse would have no relief. He respects it and it's there when you need it. He can't usually run off with you with a curb bit because you have so much more control than in a snaffle.
I like the finesse I get from a curb.