Personally, I wouldn't use draw reins in your case as you've described it. Many modern warmbloods are super big and strong and smaller riders typically have a harder time riding them.
Here is my advice: Skip the draw reins and work as hard as you can to get yourself and your horse to the point where you can move on to a double bridle. At that point you'll have a much easier time.
The first segment of this video may be informative for you.
Reschooling a horse that has been poorly ridden/trained. Sometimes only one draw rein is needed to straighten a horse that has been ridden crookedly. Draw reins are used as a correction, and should not be used for an extended period of time.
What do you want to get from the draw reins? More pressure on the bit than you have without it? To get his head down?
If he accepts contact but inconsistently, before draw reins, I suggest trying a new bit. There has been discussion on some threads about young horses liking a more stable bit than a loose ring. Maybe try him in a D-ring or full cheek snaffle, even a baucher.
This is what popped out at me.
Originally Posted by aWp
What is he doing when he "tests"? Just coming above contact or getting behind your leg? If so, as a big, still young horse, that's simply what they do, and you just ask him to correct himself and move on. Both those things nearly always mean you remind him to go forward *first*.
If you are sacrificing "forward", assuming you mean that in the correct sense of the word, then by trying to put him back into the bridle first, you are hand riding him, which isn't going to fix anything.
It doesn't sound like he's going anything bad, and it really doesn't sound like he's doing anything that warrants DRs (not that I'm saying DRs never have a place). he's just doing what greenies do when they lose focus or balance or just get tired.
DRs aren't for keeping contact constant. For them to do that, they have to be too tight :)
My WB is 17h and I'm 120lb, so not that different from you. My weight is hardly any bigger factor on my guy than your weight is on your guy :) It's not a physics problem, it's a strength problem on the part of the rider :) I work hard to be strong to ride a big strong horse who, thankfully, doesn't like to bully, but if he did, I'd be capable of dealing with him from that perspective. But really, I work hard to have all the right strength everywhere to ride any horse. People say "you don't have to be strong to ride horses" - well, to some extent that's right, you don't need to be a professional weight lifter. But you DO have to be strong to control your body so you can give all the right aids.
My horse does like to lean, he does come above contact and lose his back and hind end(well, it happens in the reverse order :D), and the answer isn't DRs to keep his head from popping up, the answer is the whip on his side to remind him to push and lift - the head automatically goes back into place :)
Originally Posted by Eclectic Horseman
Ive almost used them this way with horse that literally cantered sideways one way and thought about rearing from some seriously crazy aweful training before. Obviously he was bumped in the mouth A LOT and more obviously it was with the right hand so turning right he would take the bit and leave left at canter.
In a situation with a horse being strong, as long as they are not bolting or you are not clamping up in fear the best thing to do is ride through it. You either sort it out now or later.
Need clarification - you say he is quite strong, but you are working on going forward? I'm interpretating this as he is leaning on your hands, especially when trying to find the balance in the canter - is this correct? If so, then draw reins are going to make it worse. You're going to end up with a heavier horse that is scrunched in the neck & not through in the back.
Work on transitions between gaits. You can also incorporate circles. When he gets strong, transition down & re-balance. If the canter is too difficult under saddle - lunge him in a big area (not a little circle) in side reins. He needs to find his own balance - not from your hands & not by pulling his head down & in.
Take your time & do it correct from the start. Going forward into contact is a really important step & not one you want to skip or shortcut. For a while, it is going to feel like you can't go 5 strides without a transition or circle & then in a few months you will realize that your horse is carrying himself :)
THIS^^. Actually it sounds like your horse is coming along as one would expect from a large young horse. The increasing consistency will come.
My interpretation was the horse was getting physically stronger from the work, as opposed getting strong and ignoring
"He's become quite strong, which is a blessing and a curse, and I am tiny!"
I don't think she'd say it was a blessing in any form if "strong" meant ignoring/leaning :)
Originally Posted by TickleFight
One uses the double bridle when the contact in the SNAFFLE is feather light, absolutely consistent, and the horse collects/extends/halts/etc pretty much entirely off seat. When you can school extensions-to-collection WITHOUT HAND, and when you can play with canter pirouettes WITHOUT HAND, and when you can do a canter-halt transition WITHOUT HAND (so, third level, schooling fourth), THEN you can introduce the double. Did I mention the contact in the SNAFFLE must be FEATHER LIGHT and ABSOLUTELY CONSISTENT for all of this?
Which you then ride in the double maybe once a week and do the rest of the work in the snaffle to make sure you aren't masking flaws in the connection and to make sure the horse's lateral suppleness is better-maintained.
One does NOT use the double bridle to address (aka "cover up") BASIC FLAWS IN THE CONTACT as this 5yo horse is demonstrating.
(Which, btw OP, it is fine for a 5yo horse to display basic flaws in the contact. That's why it's 5, and still learning.)
If you can't get 95% of the exact same work out of your horse in the snaffle as in the double, go fix your snaffle problems a while before you put the double back on.
Honestly, this is why my dressage trainer in Germany says that US GP is like German Third Level: because 90% of US amateurs can't hold their riding to the above standard BEFORE they go in the ring at Third. They've been waterskiing on the curb the whole time and calling it "FEI."
OP, just be patient with your horse.
Keep at it until your 110lb seat and 110lb of leg can ride the horse with consistency and lightness. It may take a while. But if you make even just .5% progress every ride you'll have a whole new horse next year.
No tomato here. I understand how frustrating this phase can be. Don't use draw reins though. There's no such thing as proper use of draw reins. Your horse will never properly take up the outside rein again. Force doesn't teach the horse to accept contact. You want him to understand your aids and react correctly, not give in to superior strength. I'm a lightweight too and clear aids trump strength.
If your horse feels strong, consider his balance. You want to develop carrying power that shifts weight from the forehand to the hindquarters. Your problem might have more to do with the "forward" component than the "down" component.
If impulsion is the problem, ride frequent single transitions, such as trot to canter. If balance is the issue, ride more double transitions, such as walk to canter.
Think also about bend. Sometimes a horse will begin to stretch to the bit when you ask for proper bend.
I've had it help with young horses and off the track horses to practice riding long and low. As you take the horse down, you're asking him to give you more than stretch to the bit. Once he can stretch out and down, bringing him back to a happy place on contact is relatively easy.
I disagree there is no such thing as proper use of DRs. Your comments up there are making the assumption that all use of them is done so on a "tight" basis, meaning there is no escape, and they are forcing a head to be somewhere. IMHO and IME, that's the wrong use of DRs.
Originally Posted by norton
One can use DRs such that you are riding off your regular reins, and the DRs are loose enough to have no effect on the horse as long as he's within the realm of correctness. They could/would come into effect if the horse decides to sling his head up, or to the side, however, and that can be a more instant correction than a rider might be able to make.
Please don't take that to mean I think one should just put on DRs if a horse tosses his head around - that's not what I'm saying. But to say that a horse will never learn the correct use of the outside rein because DRs are on, is only saying that the DRs are being used incorrectly. That does not mean there is no correct use of DRs
Originally Posted by meupatdoes
The same way you just unmasked your lack of experience.
Nobody is talking about waterskiing or throwing a horse into a full bridle and calling it FEI. 
OP, many of today's modern warmbloods are incredibly strong and even the best riders (which you are definitely not) can struggle... especially when riding in a snaffle. Your best option is simply to skip the shortcuts and get yourself and your horse to the point where you can start riding in a double.
And when you do, don't train with meupatdoes.
Perhaps you in your infinite wisdom can elucidate for OP and the rest of us the training road map on how she is magically supposed to get her horse ready for the double "as quickly as possible" while "skipping the shortcuts" when currently the horse is 5yo and is displaying some contact issues. In the intervening time how is OP supposed to ride?
Originally Posted by TickleFight
Of course, when OP fixes the contact issues to the point that the horse is ready for the double, OP won't have contact issues anymore.
Would love to see how your horses go in a snaffle, though, just for my own curiosity.
Well I think that the poster meant she should work hard to get to that point because yes IMO the heavier wb's do feel easier once they are in collected work and you can begin work that calls for the double.
But she said work hard to get there so for now I think that means get through this part of the training.
Going down the rein (lower level) work is tougher when on a naturally heavy horse, and I do know trainers who will not work really down the reins on anything that really like to drudge downward as well.
The next time I am having an issue with a young horse, I'll really appreciate a clinician saying, ""Well, just work really hard with him until you're through this part of the training!" That's just super helpful.
Originally Posted by NOMIOMI1
I believe the OP inititally asked about THIS PART OF THE TRAINING. Not the part of the training you get to later, when you have solved all your problems at this part of the training.
Sometimes plainspeak does help though you never know.
I was riding a horse that was giant necked and would go around on a longer rein all day swinging and through and the trainer I had said, "He likes going like that. We have seen enough of that. He could do that all day. How about we do some dressage."
It made an impression on me about my own idea of training and the flow.
what exactly is the horse doing?
what exactly is the rider doing?
is completely open to interpretation.
Rather than draw reins, I suggest more time talking with your current trainer; consider weekly lessons or sending horse to the trainer for a week (or month) & frequent lessons while horse is there (perhaps have trainer ride horse during part of the lesson).
I suspect you could also solve much of the issue on the lunge line (with guidance from the trainer).
If you have infrequent lessons, arena mirrors or having someone video is very helpful. I can't think of too many H/J coaches who I'd use to develop my dressage horse ... (OK I actually know 3 BUT they are 3/100 or more :lol: )
Rudeness aside, this statement really has me scratching my head... Ticklefight, can you please explain what you mean by "strong", and/or give some examples of contemporary vs. historical warmbloods to demonstrate? I could understand this being said 20 or so years ago, but it seems a really odd assessment today. :confused:
Originally Posted by TickleFight
For what it's worth OP, I second/third/fourth the posters who've suggested working on more transitions, impulsion and bending/counter-bending to improve the heaviness. Its a typical stage to go through, and while I've used draw reins in certain circumstances I don't think they're terribly apt for your current purposes.
Please avoid getting into personal commentary and crude language -- we edited a recent post.
There are a lot of good responses here. IMO:
Draw reins result in a forced response. Nothing should be forced for forward light contact.
That constant outside rein contact and shoulder fore does wonders for the moments of lost contact, and loss of forward impulsion.