Join Date: May 2011
Location: Chino Valley, AZ
OP, I'm curious as to how old your horse is and how well-trained. Is he young and greenbroke, or is he older and a "been-there-done-that" kind of horse...or somewhere in between? I ask because you having to constantly be on him to check his speed (especially at the trot) makes him sound rather green. My gelding is about as green as they come (he has ten rides on him) and we're starting to work on speed regulation now. I taught him voice commands on the ground and he responds to the command "Easy," which means to slow down whatever gait he's in. I've found that it transfers to the saddle extremely well (I just have to put a little pressure on the bit, tell him "easy" and then I can release the pressure on the bit and he'll stay at the speed I just asked for...if I want him to go faster, I give a small squeeze and say "walk on" and he picks up speed).
Also, do you have to fight with him about his speed when you have your lessons? If so, maybe ask your trainer about it.
As for getting sloppy at home when you're "practicing"...I'm going to tell you what my piano teacher told me when I first started with him: "Your performance reflects your practice." So, if you practice sloppy, that's the muscle memory you're going to have and your performance (whether in a show or at your lessons) will be sloppy. You should practice like you have your trainer standing there watching you. If you notice yourself starting to stiffen up, think of your trainer telling you to relax. If you notice yourself starting to get sloppy in your riding, picture your trainer getting after you for it.
Do not tell me I can't...because I will show
you that I can.