My trainer said when he starts to hang on your hands, add leg and raise your inside rein, then put it back down. I understand the concept, but for some reason I'm having trouble with this =/
. . . How hard am I supposed to lift my rein, how high, how long should I wait for him to respond, etc. etc?
Oh, wanted to add, we are currently working on balancing him and suppling exercises, too, but I have a feeling part of this is a lack of respect thing...so with the combination of the two things should get better! =]
Hanging on your hands means he's on his forehand. You want his hindquarters more under him and that's why you add leg. When people are first learning this, they tend to ask for way too little! And often you actually need to soften your rein pressure a little at the same time -- soften but don't drop him -- if it seems tricky, it's because it is.
With any correction to the horse, especially in the saddle, the horse learns *on the release.* So when doing a half-halt, which is what this is, the horse doesn't truly understand until you "put it back down." But you can't do that until you get at least some response. Again, it's a very delicate balance. Lifting the inside rein would be to bring up his inside shoulder, but when you do this you also need to keep your outside rein strong.
How hard, how high, how long, only your instructor can tell you as she/he watches you do it. Often as you're learning something the instructor will have you overdo it until you (and the horse) get at least a crude idea of it. Right now my instructor is telling me to stick my feet more forward at the canter even if it feels wrong to me -- "I'll tell you when you're doing too much." When you don't yet have the feel, you have to rely on your instructor's eyes. We don't have eyes here on this BB.
I don't understand what respect has to do with suppling. As you ask your horse to become more athletic, it takes time just like it would if you had to. I've found that concentrating on what I can change in myself (riding better) produces better results than trying to analyze my horse's mental state. The more finesse, clarity, and consistency I can give to the horse, the more softness and suppleness I'll get in return.