Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
I still stand by my previous post. However, I used a 2nd set of reins, made from baling twine and held outside of the pinkie fingers to teach following and feel to my English students. Also, drop the reins and turn using your weight and aids only to isolate your body from the reins. You can teach your horse to start and halt by weight, as well. My horses learned that if the feel was light, we were just hacking, but if I choked up (and followed, of course) we were going to speed up and do something more exciting.
I am always changing the length of reins when I ride according to what my horse is doing. They feel this, too.
I would be less concerned about following and pay more attention to your seat. In addition, winter is a great time to teach your horse what some people think of as tricks, but are actually useful skills. For example, I've taught "Sweet Cup & Cakes" to throw a gate open on command. (My mare already knew how to do this.) He does it all of the time now, if he knows I'm unlocking a gate for him to enter. I taught him to do it by leaving him to cool off in the dry lot that I use as my 55 x 65 ft. Training area. I'd leave him there for an hour (2010) after a hard workout, then I'd unhook it before he could exit and join the herd. He's lost all fear of gates, and we intend to open gates while trail-riding in the future without dismounting. If I could do it, I'd make a jump at a gate that the herd has to pass through, to train my 5 yo's to learn to jump without my weight stressing them.
ANYWAY, make up some games that force you to secure your seat, and try riding with slack reins or tied reins and cross your arms while you ride, too. Hope this helps. =D