My elbows don't bend anymore...I try but if she is having a heavy day it is impossible to keep them bent all the way. What is the reasoning behind it anyway? If there really any significance other than the fact that some snooty english rider somewhere decided it was proper to ride that way? I mean it isn't like I ride with my elbows locked straight, I ride with a slight bend but not overly exaggerated.
Actually, there is a reason why there should be good bend in the elbows. Especially for you since this horse seems a bit heavy on the hands, you should keep this in mind. Having good bend in your arm/elbows is kind of the same concept as shock absorbers on anything. If there is bend in your elbows and the horse pulls the reins out of your hand, it isn't going to effect your upper body position very much. The same way shock absorbers on a car allow you to have a somewhat steady and comfortable ride over potholes and other various bumps. Bend in your elbows allows you to use your muscles to your advantage, allows you to have a give and take feel on your horse's mouth, and helps keep your upper body position stable. If your elbows are locked or pretty close to it, it is very easy for a horse like yours with a heavy head to either pull the reins out of your hands or pull your whole body forward.
Sorry if I sounded mean, but I was told this ALOT because when I first started riding, I had horrible bend in my elbows. The more though that I actually listened to what people where telling me and the more horses I rode, I really came to realize that bend in my elbows is very important.
Thanks Gemini :] I am working on my hands issue. It is like I will start off gripping the reins with closed hands and then I will glance down and notice they are opened again lol. As for heels I am working on those too. Thank you a bunch for the critique though, I am able to notice the things you pointed out when I look at the pictures as well. Also thank you for the compliments :] Always makes it easier when someone points out the good and the bad lol. Overall thank you though, your critique was helpful in solidifying some of my thoughts.
With the issue of your hands starting closed around the reins and then later through the ride you notice they are open, I think I might know what's causing that. You said this horse is heavy on the hands, right? Well, I think its either from the horse always pulling the reins out of your hands or because she is so heavy, you are trying to keep a light contact on the reins (open fingers) in hopes of her staying light in your hands.
Keeping light contact on the reins doesn't really make a horse light on the forehand and light in the mouth. There should always be a slight weight in the reins but she should never be pushing against the bit. To get her off your hands, you need to help her along with your legs. Its hard to practice this while posting so if you want to give this a go, so you'll want to sit the trot. Use your legs and seat to drive her forward--no pumping with the seat--into the bit. Tickle the reins a bit with your fingers to loosen the bit up in her mouth. Do not seesaw the reins or jerk on her mouth. If this isn't working for you, try talking to your trainer about it. ;)