Rhythm and relaxation should be your main focus. Cougar liked to head butt me in the face years ago when riding. He was extremely forward and racy. I did about a good solid two months working on his walk and trot, keeping him straight, even paced and encouraging him to relax. The frame came later when he truly was working from behind. Then we started working on his canter. Mind you, Cougar had a wicked buck on him due to being off balanced and it was suggested by my trainer to just leave the canter alone at that time and get his trot where we wanted it. I'd just focus on getting the horse steady, straight and relaxed. Once his canter was able to be steady and he was able to lengthen and shorten his strides that's when jumping was introduced. He was 3 and a half when I got him. I did two years of flat before he ever came near a jump. It doesn't always take that long but we both had to learn together and he was too young to jump anyways.
I never use martingales personally but if you fancy using one that's more a matter of personal preference. I adjusted my rein length throughout the ride so he was able to get used to holding his head at different levels.
Last edited by Cougar; 04-26-2010 at 08:23 PM.