Tricks to Achieve Soft Arms
My trainer rides with the most beautiful softness in her arms, and uses her fingers primarily to "ask" or "demand". She doesn't or rarely ever pulls back with her arms or tighten up her elbows or shoulders. I am forever forgetting this aspect and tend to tighten up at the elbow, as is probably pretty common.
I know its a "feel" thing, and in today's lesson she gave me feedback by her being the horse -- taking the reins at his mouth (giving him slack) and me being the rider, trying to just use my fingers while keeping my arms soft. We moved back and forth and she was trying to demonstrate how 'hard' a feeling can be for the horse, when you tighten up at the elbow or pull back with the hands/shoulders.
What tips do those of you know to keep my arms soft, soft, soft and still effective at following, while using my fingers to squeeze without pulling back?
I'm trying to practice this everywhere, including me leading in hand with a lead rope or bridle reins...just so it gets better ingrained in the muscle.