I would suggest first of all to shorten your stirrup one notch. Such a long leg might be appropriate for an advanced rider, but you look like you are "fishing for your stirrups. There should be about a 90 degree angle at the back of your knee, your upper leg to lower. Know what I mean?
Lengthen the reins a bit so you can bring your upper arm back to be more close to vertically aligned alongside your ribcage.
Get your thumbs on top and straighten your wrists.
The horse may be more comfortable without the German Martingale. It looks like the hrose is worried about the downward pull of the drawrein part, onto the bars of his mouth.
Think about point your heels down, back and at the horse's rear feet, and feel the weight go down your thigh, along the outside of your knee and down the outside of your lower leg to that dowward pointing heel, out your heel and pouring ont the ground, right in front of the hrose's hind feet. Just a mental image to combat the way your are gripping with your feet rolled out so you have the back of your calf agains the horse's side. If you energy is going down the outside of your leg, (just to the ouside of your kneecap), it will help you to keep that leg rotated forward , with knee cap and toe alinged.
It helps from time to time to reach down, when you are just standing there, and lift the fat part of the thigh that is almost your buttock , lift it with your hand and pull it out from the saddle and upward, so it makes your upper leg rotate more inward.
Your own observations of yourself are well thought out. We all work on the things that you are working on, just at various points in the spectrum.
Keep up the good work!
Thank you very much for your reply! It made for a great read -especially since I have an hour riding lesson tonight, which leaves room for improvement so I will use the advice to my advantage.
I do feel as if I am fishing for my stirrups - we have put them up a hole before, but being a riding school saddle (which is used more so than private saddles usually are) the leathers are stretched and the holes are usually too short or too long - I will try you recommendation, and ask if I can use the hole punch to make some stirrup leather holes if I can't find any the right length. I have always been taught to measure my stirrups with the length of my arm (finger tips to armpit) - is there a better and more accurate way of meausring that wont cause me to be too long or too short in the stirrups? Im getting better with my fishing for the stirrups when I loose them but agree that it may help to shorten them a bit, until I am a more experienced rider, and am cantering confidently.
I will lengthen my reins tonight like you suggested - you picked up my upper arm issue - this is something I have been having problems with right from the start - my arms are not nearly as vertical as some other riders, and I feel as if I sometimes ride with straight arms - do you think from the pictures, that this is what I am doing? Will this hurt his mouth?
I have ridden him before without the German Martingale, but the owner of the riding school/horses, has requested that he uses it in his lessons. He tends to stick his neck and head in teh air to avoid contact at all costs, and the martingale I feel is just a temporary fix his owner is using, because as he is a school horse many people are riding him, so maybe she thinks its easier... I really don't know - I do preffer riding him without it, but since he is not my horse, and I am a customer, not an owner, I unfortunatly do not feel I have the power to remove it, other wise I would, as I see it as a bandaid for training - I do put it on the first setting (the first 'D' ring on the reins, closest to the bit), which is the loosest, just to make him a bit more comfortable, or as comfrotable as I can. I really hate the way I sound like I am making excuses here but his owner requests and has told me numerous times that he must be ridden with it (I also work here on weekends and this is the request with him in all the lessons, he is the only horse as far as I know which she owns, who is wearing one at the moment, but I could be wrong).
Im not really sure what you mean with the feet excersice, but am I right when you are saying to rotate my ankle/foot to be facing forward, and lengthening my leg to avoid gripping with my knee? Sorry Im not the best at written - Im more of a visual person, haha.
I will try this and the standing you were talking about, tonight when warming up - thank you very much, this is something I have been wanting to fix for a while, but have been focusing on my other riding issues. My feet horrify me in many of my riding pictures, so I will gladly put to use your tips!
Thank you for the insight on my riding - I have seen riding critiques from you before, and am very happy with your responses - so I am very happy you took the time to critique me.