to the bolded part, im confused. are you saying many western horses arnt trained to the left leg slightly back que? because most of the western horses i know in my area, thats how there trained and thats what they respond to. if you just "kick harder" they wont lope because its not what your asking for...
Yes, I'm saying that in a group of folks taking lessons, all of whom had cantered/loped regularly with their horses, they all thought the correct cue was 'kick harder'.
The instructor said that was wrong, and why - but it still meant that each time these folks had cantered, they had cued it by 'kicking harder'.
My point is that you need to figure out what the horse has been trained to, and then teach it if the cues it was trained to differ from the ones you will use.
Do all or most western riders use 'kick harder'? Don't know. All I have is a sample of 4-5 riders. Both western instructors I've met say that is wrong. So if you buy a horse, the first thing is to figure out what the horse knows, and what he does not. He may not have been trained by someone who knows what they are doing.
As is often the case, Barry Godden says it better than me:
... What I was expecting was that the horse between my legs would have its own unique set of aids. All I had to do was to cotton on to what they were. My job was not to fight the creature between my legs, it was to learn the language of communication with it. And that was part of the fun of the day...
...If a horse is reluctant to canter, then something is wrong. It might even canter from a standing start if the rider were to ask it nicely. It is all a question of learning which buttons to push.
My gelding is learning to anticipate my moods. If we're walking, and I settle into the saddle in prep for sudden acceleration, his head will come up and his ears swivel back to listen. If I then whisper, "Wanna go? Ready to stretch your legs?", he gets more tense. If I then whisper something like, "Let's go!", he'll switch from walk to canter, with head down, ears forward and I suspect a smile on his face...
No leg, but he pays attention to my mood. My youngest daughter, OTOH, rode him a couple of weeks ago and said she was going to try her first canter on him. She gave the correct aids, and he...did nothing. Refused to go faster than a trot. Afterward, I asked how she really felt about cantering that day.
"I was scared and didn't really
want to, but felt I ought
I'm pretty sure my gelding, who loves cantering, was responding to her emotions instead of her 'aids'...