Sorry I haven't been back! You all have lovely horses. I don't have my own, so I kind of deal with other people's issues, but it's infinitely better than not riding at all.
And Drift, I totally understand about saddle fit being an issue...I have discovered most saddles don't fit the horses they're on. But people don't want to hear that when they dropped $1200 for the saddle...
I've used hackamores, but don't like them. IMO a mechanical hackamore is one of the harshest tools you can use on a horse, but it is severely underappreciated because it has no mouthpiece. It kills me to see people wrenching on those things going round a course. I have seen pulling/leaning problems vanish when I switch to a loose ring or french link, instead of going harsher. Not to criticize anyone--any bit is useful if in good hands!
I'll have to take some photos of the horses I ride currently!
I agree...if you don't know how to use it right. I had to re-learn how to use my hands when I used it, but if you use it right it's gentle. You can't really do dressage in it because of the constant pressure and that doesn't work, but if you have light hands and don't hold it works well without being very harsh at all IMO. The bit that I had/used for jumping recently is much worse IMO and he absolutely hates it, and ignores it by making his neck all stiff so he can't feel it. It's just that he has to have a bit that less experience riders can control him in, because he is
a lesson horse and other people who aren't used to him ride him. I hate it though, and my instructor's seeing it doesn't work. Only me and one other person are able to ride him in a snaffle is the problem, but I say that if they can't then they shouldn't ride him :/ . I think part of the reason he started not liking the hackamore is that the other people who rode him didn't use it right.
Oh and Learn to Fly, your hands are low, but your leg position o/f is nice. All my years of riding and I still put my leg too far back, which is not a big deal over small fences, but always screws me up at 4'+. Yours are perfect!!
Louie's got a very short neck and regular reins so unfortunately my reins can get aweful long with them. I hate it, because it messes up my dressage, but I'm working on it! I have never even jumped 3' but riding bareback is definitely why my legs are so good. My old instructor, who used to own the farm, started everyone out riding in bareback pads and wouldn't let anyone ride in saddle until their legs were steady enough. I didn't ride in a saddle for about 3 years and then voluntarily rode completely bareback for another year. When I started riding in saddle, it was like learning to ride all over again and it was so hard. Now I'm equally good at both, but each makes something harder. When I'm in saddle it's easier to carry my hands because I'm up higher, and it's harder when I'm bareback. But when I'm in saddle, I sometimes brace in my stirrups if he pulls, and then lose my balance when the same thing happens when I'm bareback. Doing both makes me realize what I'm doing wrong so I can correct it. Anyway, I was just walking around bareback the other day and I realized how my legs didn't move at all. So ride bareback if you can, it takes getting used to but it'll make you a better rider and when you get used to it you'll want to ride bareback all the time :D