So ... don't shorten A LOT, but do shorten, and that would be both. It's not that he's bad in a tight contact, but he does like dangly reins. I guess I'm also a little afraid of giving him a hard mouth... But I think he'll be okay. A shorting of stirrups is in order, I know that.
Okay, so I should get more of a feel/contact with his mouth, and shorten my stirrups 1 hole. Good?
I think the way you put it, "have a feel" of his mouth, is best. Contact won't create a dull horse if it's meaningful contact.
You kind of have to ride either with your reins long enough that you aren't following his mouth with your hands (you would be hard put to follow it, since you cannot feel his mouth) and if you want to transmit a message through the reins, you pick up the needed rein and if the hrose is really sensitive, just the feel of you picking up the rein, not even any pull on the bit, will get the message across. Of, if he isnt' sensitive, you'd have to pick up a LOT of rein to get to the place where you have enough contact for him to respond. Your horse you say is really sensitive, so he hardly needs any contact.
OR, you have your reins short enough that you are always feeling the horse's mouth, all the time, but just in a nuetral and soft way , and this allow you to follow his mouth (the action of his head bobbing) because you can feel it move up and down. This way, you hardly have to shorten the rein, indeed, you mearly squeeze your hand tighter to make the horse give to that side, becaus he is already connected to both reins.
If you ride somewhere in between that, then as the horse is moving its' head with its' gait, the reins go loose/tight/loose/tight and the hrose gets bopped with each stride.
Sorry, saying shorten a lot maybe didn't need caps. I just meant it from it looks like your horse is reaching for contact and you have it then don't then have it then don't. An even feel on the mouth is what I should have said.
Thank you McKeller :) Any advice is extremely helpful! I tried using him in a contact today, and really, he wasn't bad at all! It was actually nice to have him at my fingertips! Any comment on our jumping?
Jumping: Definitely need some more balance! Focus on getting a really steady canter. I know that is what hunters are about. Steady and balanced ALL the time! Should shorten your reins a lot if you are jumping. You can get away with that on the flat but jumping? Eeeks. Your leg looks really nice though, very sturdy. Also, bending to the inside before the jump and not keeping a stiff outside hand might help those corners. Think about picking up his front end and turning him that way so he is up and not on the forehand. Looks like he's got lots of potential though! Very cute :)
For your corners: Practice bending him to the outside from your inside leg. Push him over! Don't be afraid to kick him if he's not listening to a firm nudge. Work on spiraling circles. So start at a 20 meter circle and leg yield into a 15 meter, and then into a 10 meter. Then leg yield him back out. Don't let him just bee line it out. Work on BENDING and pushing him over with your leg and outside rein. This will help your corners a lot and help him pick himself up some more.
Thank you SO much!!! He has the worst time balancing! I just haven't figured out how to get it from him ... the outside hand is because he is trying to speed up too fast. Thank you for the help with the corners SO much!! You have no idea!! Do you have any ideas about his pace? We struggle with that, as well. He gets tired going uphill, and jets downhill, which I can expect, but these hills are tiny ...
I like the way your horse moves...a lot(: he's also very willing. I agree that you might want to go for a "light contact" I think in your turns you should use your inside leg so he doesnt "drop" his shoulder/whole body through them, it might make them a bit smoother.
For you (hehehehe) im in love with your lower leg, and if it disapears...IT WASNT ME.haha anyway, from watching your jumping and flatwork, I would say for hunters your going to want to go into your half-seat.