Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: ~*~ NEBRASKA ~*~
In my area, they like to see you hold your reins in the left hand with the reins down loose over the horses right shoulder. Right arm straight down at your side in a relaxed manner. Your hand holding the reins should be thumb up (like you are holding an ice cream cone).
Sit up straighter and your legs looks a little forward (which may be what's causint you to hunch and look a bit off balance)...put them a little more under you and shift your weight back a bit more so you can put it into your heels (takes practice to get used to it but you will know when you've hit that point). Something that a trainer had me do years ago that helped with english and western is to do heel lifts on a step. Find a step or stair with a hand rail for balance. Stand on it with the ball of your foot (like you would a stirrup) and put your weight into your heels so that they stretch down as far as they can possibly go. Then SLOWLY raise up on tip toe, and SLOWLY go back down. It not only give you great riding heels, it teaches you to keep your weight in that heel without sliding out of your stirrup.
Your face looks like you were concentrating a bit hard...which you probably were. It helps if you try to relax a little. It's Western pleasure so above all just try to relax and have fun with it. In my experience a lot of judges prefer a relaxed rider with slight imperfection to a stressed out, cranky looking, perfect rider.