I have seen instructors have the students hold their hands out in front of them and move their hands up and down with the horse's feet, I have seen instructors have the student move their legs forward and back with the horses gait. Are there any other ways to help a student begin to feel the horse's rhythm? Tips and tricks from the wise and more experienced than I are so greatly appreciated. Thanks!
You can also make them focus on a certain pair of legs (the horse's front or rear) and recite 'left, right, left, right, left right' as each takes a step. One of my instructors had me doing this at the walk to gain more awareness of when the hind legs were coming forward to take a step.
If you want the students to get a better sense for posting the trot at a steady pace, you can use a metronome and/or sing a song with a steady clear beat. (The witch song from Wizard of Oz is one I've heard suggested for this -- "Ding dong the witch is dead, which old witch, the wicked witch, ding dong the wicked witch is dead.")
Yep either numbers or left right. Probably start with numbers for learning a rhythm and then when they are comfortable with that and you want to teach them to feel their horse, then use left right. Make it simple at first.
I have a bell attached to the shoo fly of every saddle I have. I ride with a bell, the horses like it, and my lesson kids can stay in tune with the horse by listening for the bell. I just like the sound none the less. :)
People who are nervous of doing something wrong while the coach is watching usually don't get the rhythm. Try having the rider just allow the horse to meander around without holding the reins. This exercise often loosens the rider's back. I have often watched tension appear in the back as soon as the rider again picks up the reins.
When trying to keep a steady rhythm at the trot, my coach has us say the days of the week, "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday..." I find it's easy to keep the same rhythm while you're saying it, so you really notice if you're speeding up or slowing down!