Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: I'm an American girl living in southwest France
I'm not an expert by any means, but isn't 2 1/2 a little young to be riding her this often?
Horses usually run faster with more energy in a larger space. Maybe you can try riding her in a smaller riding ring. I ride in a small ring most of the time for my lessons, but when we go into the arena, the horse goes twice as fast at the trot. It's like he's on speed or something.
Also, I don't think there's anything wrong with grabbing that horn when you're learning. If you practice enough, you'll find your seat and not need the horn anymore. But I think it can become a crutch, so you have to force yourself not to grab it as much as you can. Make it a contest with yourself. Go 5 strides not holding, then 10 strides, then 15 ... until you can go all the way around without holding.
For me, the only way to totally gain my seat in a gait is to not be holding on, but I'm never comfortable doing that with a new gait right off the bat. It's a series of steps beginning with crutches like holding on and then gradually letting go of them.