Originally Posted by mayfieldk
Haha, just mentioning--it is really hard for most western riders to switch to english, because most of them (even good ones) don't have a secure seat. I went to the University of Findlay for western riding, and when we had 'english week'... a lot of the kids fell off/looked bad/couldn't control their bodies.
Yea, that's what annoys me about my competitors in western. Many of them simply can't ride. Still I think that claiming that even good western riders have a difficult time moving to english is a bit bold.
Heres the thing about a great western horse. It's very sensitive to subtleties. If you mount up on a world champion pleasure horse, don't be surprised to find that even slight twitches of your legs will bring about results. Pleasure horses and riders can be deceptive. The idea is to make the horse look like it requires the least input possible while riding. However, this doesn't mean that you teach the horse to drive itself. Riders need to be constantly adjusting their horses, especially in pleasure classes where a perfect frame and optimal movement are essential. This sets up the potential for western riders to be utter failures. They can either lean on the sensitivity of their horses and simply get lazy, or they can make the most of that sensitivity and become just as sensitive and specialized as their horses.
I actually found that english riding was easier than I had anticipated. The saddles are a bit smaller so the balance does become more important, but it seems so generous in terms of acceptable... I don't know... use of your tack? Obvious cues? Maybe even the level of control you're allowed to exert over your animal resulting in some horses that don't maintain the same personal discipline that many of the nice pleasure horses will.
I mean, in english classes, riders are allowed to keep their horses on the bit, and even post (which after beginning to ride english, I believe this is a tool that english people take for granted). Those two things alone seem so generous to western riders. To be allowed to have that kind of contact with your horse's mouth and provide such a dramatic demonstration of the desired cadence you wish to achieve through posting, you can make much more straightforward commands to your horse.