So, I've had Miss Mo for a year and a half at this point. Just over a month ago, I had a terrible ride, and I though you know, next time I'll put the western saddle on. Not really sure why I though that, just seemed like a good idea. This was the beginning of learning that Mo HATES english. I've been training her in dressage, she's almost a solid level 2 horse... hates it! I kept riding in the western saddle, added a western bridle and she's a different horse. She used to sweat on her head terribly, her whole face would be drenched... no more. She's sweet and compliant and not racing around as if her tail was on fire. It's amazing. So, we'll try her in western dressage this year, just for kicks. I have a young FEI dressage prospect that is being developed, so she's my fun horse. And she's finally fun again.
I bought Mo, she'd been sitting in a field, so we actually bought the western saddle to bring her back into shape with. Then I'd throw it on occasionally, but not often. I've spent 30 years in English tack, it's foreign to me. She's 17 this year, and much of her history is lost to me, although her passport shows that she used to be a jumper for awhile.
I'm so glad that I tried listening to my horse, and realized that she just needed to be a western horse. I know not everyone has the luxury of two horses, one which they can play with. Most people would just keep going, chalk it up to a bad day, and keep working with a miserable horse. My girl is now a pretty happy kid. Although she *is* on a diet, and that sucks :). As for me, I'm learning how to ride western, which really isn't all that different (she goes in a snaffle with split reins), and slowly stocking us with the gear we need to go show with (I've never met a horse show I didn't like, so I'm itching to get out there). She's getting a custom one ear bridle and matching reins, and I bought a different saddle, so I have to sell the other one, but at least I've sold her dressage saddle, so I'm still net zero.
And lucky for me, I also have my big boy who is coming along smashingly. He, ironically, hates western saddles, do you know that they have strings that might bounce on your bum when you trot?! Yeah, shortly after that we decided to break him in an English saddle... good choice!