For the time being I may ride two handed I guess.
Now whether we’ll go to indirect reining is another story and that has alot to do with me.
Paula, there is such a thing as western riding that has a horse in a snaffle for its basic education. For two or three years, or more (or even for the life of the horse) if the rider hasn’t made a bridle horse before.
You do NOT have to lose the nice snaffle bit…EVER if that is your choice.
Dressing the horse in a curb bit when you don’t have the tools to keep him laterally flexible to ‘compete’ in somebody’s vision of Western Pleasure Dressage is foolish at best.
In my opinion, there are WAY too many western horses with a curb bit hung in their mouths, that really need a whole lot more education with two reins- snaffle or even bosal hackamore. The need for lateral softness and flexibility does not go away because you teach the horse to neck rein. The really outstanding riders create that lateral softness, and maintain it through the horse’s life. It is a much older, very well trained horse that is ridden in a curb-only bit.
Buck Brannaman doesn’t even take a horse from a snaffle bit to a bosal hackamore (still using two reins to steer) until he has flying changes, haunches in, half-pass, and a good canter pirouette (a cowhorse spin, which is different from a reining spin) going well and solid.
Paula, I think you’re on to something by going in a more Western direction. But as Buck says, there is nothing to reconcile between ‘English’ and ‘Western’…it’s just the rider’s outfit. Good riding, educating the horse’s mind and body to carry himself and you in the best and most athletic way, is universal to any good horsemanship.
I’d say that for what YOU want to do with Fella, you don’t have to go play Western Dressage, you can just go and pay for judge’s feedback at a regular dressage show- as long as it is in front of a good judge. It may be hors concours (you pay the fees to show but are not eligible for a ribbon, you aren’t ‘competing’) because you are in a western saddle.
But go ride with the GOOD trainers. Spend more on high quality instruction, make the budget work by going less often- you aren’t in trouble with a horse that’s going to hurt you or anything like that.
Whether those instructors are Vaquero Horsemanship types or Working Equitation types or Dressage trainers is immaterial as long as the instructors are teaching their basic horsemanship properly.
And as far as what you SHOULD do?
You are already doing it- you are trying to do right by your horse, you are looking to educate yourself and you are listening to what Fella has to ‘say’ about his participation in the ordeal.