First a little bit of a back-story:
I have never ridden a horse -- not even those carousel pony rides at the fair -- in my life up until about April 2010 (last year). As a matter of fact I'd barely been around horses, except for a brief episode of petting and maybe some feeding. I wasn't afraid of the horse, I was afraid of the height! When I needed 8 hours of community service in order to graduate high school I said I might as well do something I love (with animals) that was also new and exciting -- so I contacted the local livery stable and they were more than happy to take me in, despite my lack of experience.
Today I was helping to train a young gelding (5 years) to ride. We used the Appaloosa as a "tutor." The Appy was like a father to the black horse and the two are almost glued together. The Appy is also an arena horse and to help settle the youngster down we wanted a calm, collected horse to work with him. At first the girl in front of me had a lead rope; I would give the youngster cues (light taps with my heals, turning, verbal commands) in unison with what she was doing. Eventually, we ex'd the lead rope and he did fairly well!
So after less than a full year of riding, how am I doing? I noticed that my toes tend to push outward a little bit (a little more than I would like), but as far as I can see there isn't much else going on, but thought I would ask various riders.
We don't ride Parelli or anything else like that; just "basic" Western. I have been given just pointers and sparse lessons from my boss; everything else was learned by observation or outside sources (such as talking with the girl in front of me, who is an ex-barrel racer and senior rider).
In this picture, you can see I'm reaching down with my right hand to try and bring Thunder more to the right. He would get beside the Appy and nip at his (the Appy's) tack, or try to get him to play. No-no, Thunder!
Allowing myself to daydream a little bit, cooing over how well he is doing. This was the first time he's ever been ridden without someone leading him from the ground! No bucking, no rearing. He only kept playing with my pant leg (he'd turn around and grab it) and playing with the bit by grabbing it between his teeth. We're going to purchase bit guards to help detour this habit.