I think my lower leg is getting involved with nagging her forward
I found myself doing it on a hack yesterday, so I must stop that.
Ah, yes....nagging. We often let our legs drift back because that is where the horse bulges and we can get our legs on them there the easiest! But, nagging is very counterproductive. It serves to deaden the horse to the leg. If you poke yourself in the side constantly, you can easily learn to ignore that annoyance. What you need to do is use your leg more sharply and get a real response from the horse. If the horse ignores the leg, a tap with a dressage whip reinforces this aid. When the horse reacts, you praise it mightily. Then, you need to let your leg go quiet. Yes, the horse will take advantage and lose the energy you wanted. That's OK. You simply re-energize with a stronger leg and get a response again. Eventually, your horse will understand if they don't carry that energy for a while, a strong correction will come. They will decide to carry themselves
longer and longer. You need to encourage the horse literally every step of the way. You want the horse to carry themselves, not react dully to your nagging.
I hope this makes sense.
Tiny, Horses are right handed and left handed, just as we are. They will have a good side and a bad side. On one side they are much more likely to "lean in" on the circle. They throw all their weight onto the inside shoulder.
I liken that to a bicycle. When a bike goes around a corner, it cannot bend. As a result, they have to lean in when going around a corner. When a horse leans in, the rider ends up leaning in, too. This adds the rider's weight onto the inside shoulder, too. This makes matters even worse.
So, we need to give the horse the tools to bend. Inside leg, at the girth, pushes and lets go...pushes and lets go.....to encourage the horse to move off of that inside shoulder. The inside rein encourages the horse to bring his head in to help increase the bending the leg is asking for. AND, at least in the beginning, the rider puts extra weight into the outside stirrup to get their weight off of the inside shoulder. The rider sinks onto the outside seatbone. All in an effort to get their own weight Off of the inside shoulder. This will help give the horse the tools to bend on the circle.
The outside rein is all important. It must remain firm and very QUIET (no fussing). The horse must learn to trust that this rein will never be anything but supportive so that they will be willing to move into it and use it for supporting the bend.
The faster the gait, the more important it is to give the horse these tools to help with the bend. At the canter, until they can bend, they will be unable to correctly balance themselves. Once they bend better at the trot, it is time to work on the canter....not before.
At the canter, it is important to give bending aids even more. As the horse learns to bend, you can work much less and not have to shift your weight to the outside as much.
It is important to ask the horse to come forward in the canter. You need to encourage the horse to come off of the forehand. LEG!! Leg increases the energy but must not, necessarily, increase the speed of the horse. Leg to energize and engage, half halt to control the speed. You may have to half halt every other stride. So, it is LEG, half halt....LEG, half halt. All the while you are giving the bending aids. Sound complicated? You bet!!
Geeze, I seem to be long winded tonight. I don't even know if my fast typing is coming up with anything that is making sense. I am much better in person....Or so I've heard