Clava - Unfortunately I rode bareback so much that I have habits that are hard to break. He used to be so sensitive to any leg cues so I always rode bareback with no leg on him at all. I found balance in my seat, I did my best to not grip with anything. A few trainers think its rather odd that I'm able to ride bareback well enough to stay on without any lower leg contact. But who knows. I just know as soon as we start going within a minute I'm back to that position and I can't find out how to get under myself again, have to go to a walk then start again. Though I don't know, I've never watched myself with a saddle without stirrups. Maybe I should try and video tape that next time.
I have very short calf muscles/tendons. Years of walking on my toes...I'm getting more flexible but just not quite there yet. So in order to keep them from riding up I feel like they have to be shoved down. If I just relaxed my foot is parallel to the ground and I can not keep any sort of balance.
[[I'm not trying to say your wrong...just explaining what I feel when I try]]
Corporal - If he looks calm then we did a good job! He isn't a calm horse, and he was tense this day. But thank you so much for the compliment on him. I love to hear that he looks calm and knows his cues, because it means all of my training is starting to pay off. He's come a long way from the hot greenish 14 year old I got nine years ago.
I am hoping to be getting some lunge lessons eventually on a different horse. I agree that I need to work on not depending on my hands. Unfortunately Jake can't exactly be rode on a loose rein in a snaffle. He gets nervous without feeling the bit, and eventually would be galloping full out around the arena. He also tends to run into things/side swing things and motorcycle around turns enough that he has fallen more than a few times. He runs himself into the ground, there is no tiring this horse out. He would run until he collapses, I've tried it a few times and had to give up when he starts tripping at a gallop because he refuses to slow down but couldn't bring his legs high enough to clear the ground.
Posting with my hands in front of the pommel created more problems then they solved for me. I had a trainer have me do that for about 5 months. Since then I've been spending many months trying to get rid of my habit of leaning forward, and I still bounced when I raised my hands. So I just have to work on it some other way.
I'll try the relaxing walk thing, sounds like it would be good for us anyways. EDIT : I agree with Tiny about the straight elbow thing though. Its already straight enough as is, thats something I have to get rid of.
If I'm not thinking about it I go back to bad old habits. I'm a western/barrel rider gone english. So going back to old habits is bad bad bad. Lol But what do you mean by cross-training?