Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~
If he is not maintaining contact then he can't be collected. Contact is third on the training scale for a reason.
It sounds to me like he is sucking behind your leg and not truly pushing up to the bit from behind. A video would be helpful. If it were me, I would be doing lots of transitions and work on getting him to really reach over his topline and into the contact.
Can't get a video at the moment, sorry. Now I will defer to your experience and knowledge here, but what seems to be happening is that he feels very nice, very round and pushing up to the bit, but then I ask him to do something he doesn't like (usually a C/T transition, he just wants to run and run) and he hollows out and sucks his head back, he'll carry his head really low while doing this. So I think he is evading me. My general tactic is to keep asking until I get it and that is the end of that particular issue for that ride. I'm not trying to collect him (I am no where near ready for that), but I am trying to get more engine from behind, and more swinging through his back at the walk, he just really likes it when I shorten the reins and have a strong feel of his mouth. I say he likes it, because that is when I start to feel a nice, loose forward walk from him. Perhaps I am misreading this?
Today when he sucked back, we did a lot of transitions- have been working on them lately, and it did seem to bring him forward more. I will focus on this, as well as the shoulder in exercise Kayty described. Hopefully I find a trainer in the near future. It is very frustrating to be stuck somewhere trying to improve your riding on your own!