Thank you =D I am going to do a lot of trot work with her. I didn't realise the saddle should not be on the withers =/ I bought a saddle when I first got her. The shop I bought it out of has a professional fitter. She told me it might pinch her withers. I never thought anything of it. Then she started bucking, backing up, pulling head down etc. I then realised it was the saddle. So I went to buy a new one. This one I have now was a perfect fit for her. It was fitted on it's own without the girth etc.
Maybe I am justing thinking it is too far back because I always had it on her withers. I will check it out properly tomorrow.
So I pretty much trot her around and around on a loose rein until she relaxes? What do I do when she does relax? Like how do I reward her..just a pat? Or a break? Should I trot around the edge of the arena or should I add in circles every now and then?
yeah my chiro and saddle fitter always say that the biggest mistake they say people make is having the saddle too far forward.
As for trot, literally trot ad nauseum. Change posting diagonals randomly (this encourages her to stay balanced regardless of the diagonal you are on), change directions, circles, fig 8s all on a long rein. This will force you to use your leg more and her to listen to leg and not rely on the bit for balance or steering.
When she starts to reach for the bit tell her good girl and give her a pat, and go another few min and after she does it again then you can sit and walk (without using the bit for the transition!).
Over time she will start to seek out the contact - when she does and it doesn't take an entire ride to get her to seek the bit, but just a few min of stretching on a long rein, then gradually shorten your reins to a more traditional length. A big issue I see is people pick up a rein contact and worry about headset and forget all the work they just put into the trunk ;). So soft rein contact that follows her movement and encourages her to use her hind and back.
Above all - BE PATIENT. You are asking her to completely change how she moves, how she responds to the bit, how she balances, how she uses herself and asking her to entirely remuscle her body. This takes time. Just as if you wanted to get in shape for bikini season you would't diet the week or two before you went to the beach expecting to drop 3 sizes lol! After 3-4d a week of trotting for about a month you'll really start to see a difference. Be patient and stick with it - it works. Most people get bored with the first few weeks of trotting and give up bc well it IS boring. Hence the change of directions using leg aids, etc. also try thinking the direction you want to go and see if she starts to pick up on it. Feel what your body does in response to your horse. Do you get tense? Brace? Lean? Collapse your rib cage? Stop and really FEEL are you even in both stirrups? Is your pelvis even? Hips? Shoulders? Listen to your horse's feedback she gives you as you work with her - all that trot work will allow you to start to notice how if you have a bad knee, or a weak lower back, how that affects your horse. Horses are the best trainers we have.... I love quiet rides where I work with my horses and feel their body feedback to me when I ask for transitions or lengthenings, or OF, and can feel - oh okay, I shifted, let me ask you again staying more centered this time and see how it goes. Ooh that went better! See? Sometimes we need to just trot around all day long and listen to what our horse is telling us that we are REALLY telling them.
When it all comes together it's a beautiful thing!