Hi Apachie, what a cute boy you have!
Before I get into too much of a critique, I have to comment on a couple of things that I see that I really like: Your upper body is in a nice position - you have a straight back but not locked into shape and you keep your shoulders back for the most part. I like that you are looking up and forwards in all (but one
) of the pics. Also, nice job keeping your thumbs on top, one of the most common faults and so easy to forget about!
The things I would work on to would be firstly to ride with a soft and elastic contact which just means that you give and you take. But never wholly one or the other.
There are a couple of consequences of riding with an unforgiving hand; firstly the horse will resist, bracing their neck against the pressure. This is where they have their head up and will feel very rigid in your hands. This is not a good thing as any aids you give to a horse when they are in this position will fall on deaf ears so to speak as they are simply too tense and the bit is in the wrong position in their mouth (photos 1, 7 and 8).
Once they give up trying to brace against you, they will instead try to evade the contact altogether by putting their head low and tucking it in. You can see in some pics that he has his head low, trying to avoid the pressure with his mouth gaping (pics 2, 3 and 8). Also not a good postion to be in because again, all aids that you give a horse when they are in this position will be rendered ineffective.
I also notice that he is stiff and a little counter bent in some pics, particularly pic 6. For the horse to be soft he must be able to flex correctly in each direction. Think of it this way: If you are riding a circle to the right you should be able to see his right hand side eyelashes without moving your own upper body. He has a tendency to lock his shoulders and tip his nose to the outside.
Now that I have bashed a bit, there are a couple of pics in there that look like good starting points to begin with: Pics 4 and 5. All it would take from those pics is to unlock your arms a little (relax those wrists and elbows!), give a little more with your hands and allow him to walk freely and use your seat to encourage him to reach with those HQ and shift some of his weight off his forehand.
Now, for things some things to try:
1.) For a horse that rushes, I use lots of changes in direction and gaits. Whatever you do, don't try to hold him back with both reins because it is not effective and will be detrimental to further training. Instead, try exercises that keep him thinking about you
rather than rushing - combine big circles with small circles, throw in some figure of eights, serpentines.
Add some transitions into that mix, particularly walk/trot transitions, I like to do this on a figure of eight pattern. Think of them as two trot circles with 4-8 strides of walk in the middle.
2.) Do you 'walk' you hands at the walk? My suspicion is either that you don't, or you aren't enough. That means that your hands follow the natural motion of his head, they shouldn't be locked into position as a proper relaxed walk requires the head and neck to 'bob' a little and your hands should follow this movement to allow him to truly relax into the gait and encourage a nice swinging walk.
3.) For the bending I like to use lots of spirals where you start on one rein (say the right) and begin a large circle. Look for those eyelashes! Then gradually bring the circle in closer, ask/talk with your inside rein (remember, never constant contact - squeeze and release) and use your outside rein to control speed. Use your inside leg to ask for bend, think of getting him to wrap his body around that inside leg. Your outside leg is for support and to prevent the opposite shoulder from popping out. Once you have 'spiraled' in, spiral out again. Then do the left rein, same concept but opposite aids.
4.) Lastly, a good warm up is crucial! I spend 10-30 mins warming horses up mostly at a walk. It is the time to get the muscles warm and get their mind focused so encouraging a good free walk and then introducing some leg yielding (have you worked on this before?). Use your seat and legs to encourage him to stretch down into
your hands rather than trying to use your hands to make him stretch down. Don't worry if it doesn't happen instantaneously, my girl can sometimes take a while to do this! But I don't start a workout until she is ready to listen, your workouts will be of much higher quality if you start them out right.
Sheesh, that was a long one ha.