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Collection

This is a discussion on Collection within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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        04-04-2009, 10:36 AM
      #11
    Trained
    Great discussion Spyder!

    For me - it is lightness in the front. I have had horses pull on me and I would end rides with sore arms due to that.........so I know what it feels like when I have lightness up front.

    I love the feeling of a lifted back, and that feeling of going "uphill".

    BUT Nelson and I have not achieved true collection yet. This is a long process, takes allot of dedication, correct riding, patience and persistance.

    We aren't there yet.
         
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        04-04-2009, 02:25 PM
      #12
    Weanling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MIEventer    
    Great discussion Spyder!

    For me - it is lightness in the front. I have had horses pull on me and I would end rides with sore arms due to that.........so I know what it feels like when I have lightness up front.

    I love the feeling of a lifted back, and that feeling of going "uphill".

    BUT Nelson and I have not achieved true collection yet. This is a long process, takes allot of dedication, correct riding, patience and persistance.

    We aren't there yet.
    that's it for me as well actually. I broke my arm, and lost a lot of strength it it. When I started riding again, I realized how much my old horse was on the forehand, and while he looked "pretty", and we actually did well at shows, I had no real connection with him. It wasn't until I really started riding him back to front and getting him to carry his OWN head and neck that I started getting somewhere

    My new boy and I aren't quite there yet either. We get moments, and there are times where I'm like "aha!" but either he or I fall apart a couple of strides after :P we're a work in progress ;)
         
        04-04-2009, 02:54 PM
      #13
    Banned
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Skyhuntress    
    we're a work in progress ;)
    Most people are.

    When you break down exactly what collection is, then when it comes, you WILL know.

    The saying back to front is fine but not very descriptive,

    So just WHAT is back to front.

    As the horse goes from constraint to unconstraint ( or in other words...from shovelling along and doing only what is necessary to move his body from one clump of grass to another..LOL to centering his balance more in the middle and able to supply thrush to each stride and enabling suppleness) then and only then can collection even be thought of.

    There are many ways to develop collection (exercises) and I am not going to go into any detail, but what DOES happen is the horse gets stronger, and the addition of thrust enables the horse to develope strength and allows the hind legs to engage more fully. As each hind leg becomes more active and engages farther under the body. The ribs of the horse have no choice but to be forced outward and FILLS the contour of the rider seat and legs. The rider that has any degree of sensitivity will feel this broadening or "filling out" or "pushing out" of their legs somewhat like an inflated balloon and if the collection is lost they will feel that balloon deflate.

    It is this inflation, expansion of the ribs and subsequent rising of the front end that brings about the appearance of a lifted front end and correct collection but we must be careful in distinquishing the difference between a "forced" position that "looks like" collection and the real thing that only an active engaged hind leg can truly create.
         
        04-04-2009, 05:04 PM
      #14
    Yearling
    I think JDI said it in simple terms. A lightness in the bridle and you feel like you're riding on their butt so to speak.

    JMO though...
         
        04-04-2009, 05:21 PM
      #15
    Banned
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by starlinestables    
    I think JDI said it in simple terms. A lightness in the bridle and you feel like you're riding on their butt so to speak.

    JMO though...
    And a horse evading the bit (behind the verticle) can feel just like that also but they would not be right.

    A serious dressage person would never just take that and say they have a collected horse....together perhaps....collected...no.
         
        04-04-2009, 05:27 PM
      #16
    Started
    Here's an article I wrote about the difference between action, impulsion, and flexion - all of which can be misinterpreted for collection. Collection requires proper impulsion, but is different than shortening of the gaits. True collection is when a horse is moving with impulsion and using the energy to propel upwards more than forwards. Extension is the opposite (still requiring equal impulsion to tru collection) where the horse is using the energy to propel forwards more than upwards.

    Here's my take on it:
    Understanding Impulsion, Suspension, and Action in the Gaits
    by CJ Millar, Founder of Equi-Eval.com and Head Trainer and Co-Owner of TLC Stables in
    NJ


    Often you hear people talk about a horse's suspension, impulsion, and action, something you hear most in the Dressage rings, but you will hear with regards to other disciplines as well. Hunters are known for having "flat knees" and saddleseat and carriage horses have "high action", while dressage horses are known for having "great suspension", but just what does this mean?

    First, let's look at the difference between suspension and action. Suspension comes from impulsion. Action specifically refers to the action in the joint that occurs during flexion and contraction of the muscles around that joint. So a horse with more action in their hocks simply flexes the muscles and joint in a more pronounced way (this also can be impacted by limb angles and conformation) than a horse with less action. Suspension is the time in which the horse is suspended from the ground during any particular gait. Suspension will occur more naturally in horses who are better built to carry themselves conformationally meaning that they also have more natural impulsion or self carriage.

    Next, let's define impulsion. Impulsion is the ability of the horse to propel with energy from the hind end, specifically defined in the USEF Rule book as:
    "the transmission of an eager and energetic, yet controlled propulsive energy generated from the hindquarters into the athletic movement of the horse. Its ultimate expression can be shown only through the horseís soft and swinging back to be guided by a gentle contact with the riderís hand."

    So how do suspension, impulsion, and action all relate when discussing movement of a horse? Quality movement must have impulsion. A horse moving with impulsion will have more suspension in their gaits than a horse moving without impulsion. And a horse must have good joint action in order to be able to be able to move with impulsion and thus suspension. However good joint action and excessive high action is entirely different and not always desirable. So how do you tell the difference?

    A horse with high action may appear at a glance to have more suspension but to be sure you need to look at actual movement. If the horse is not carrying themselves and moving with impulsion, then the actual time where the horse is physically suspended from the ground will be less than a horse with true impulsion. This can create the illusion that suspension and action are directly related, when in reality, a horse can have less joint action, but better self carriage and impulsion and actually stay suspended from the ground longer because they are propelling themselves forward rather than up. Remember that less exaggerated joint flexion coupled with more hind end power (impulsion) will still equal suspension.

    Now that the difference between impulsion, suspension, and action is clear, we can better understand the "flat kneed" movement of a hunter and the "high action" movement of a saddleseat horse, and the suspended movement of a dressage horse.

    With a typical hunter, judges look for conformation and soundness coupled with an even pace that would be comfortable to ride on the hunt field for an extended amount of time. This is where the "flat knee" expression comes in. A horse with less knee action and a free flowing shoulder will have a stride that is long and smooth making it easy to sit. When this horse moves with impulsion, the result is a long forward stride with quiet
    Joint action. Think of the difference in riding a horse with sweeping movement as opposed to a non-gaited horse with a lot of joint action - the horse with the sweeping movement will be easier to sit to for a longer amount of time.

    When it comes to saddleseat horses, you tend to see judges looking for that high stepping joint action referred to as animation, coupled with good impulsion and energy. Over-exaggeration of joint action is undesirable, however a naturally more active horse will be considered more animated, which is a criteria for which horses are judged. Animated movement which includes more noticeable joint flexion coupled with impulsion
    And suspension is most often see at the "Park" gaits, which as per the USEF are considered highly collected and animated. In this case, both impulsion and action are needed, collectively creating suspension that shows off the animated movement of the horse.

    Finally, how does this relate to the dressage horse? In dressage, impulsion is looked for at every level in every gait. The more collected the horse in their movements, the more action they will need to have in their joints to perform that movement with quality while maintaining impulsion. For example, a horse performing an extended trot will use their
    Impulsion to propel them forward in the gait, with more forward suspension and less upward suspension as they cover more ground. On the other hand, a horse performing a piaffe will need significantly more joint flexion in order to be able to maintain impulsion while staying in the same place, causing the impulsion to push them upwards rather than forwards. A horse overflexing their hocks at an extended trot is equally as
    Undesirable as a horse performing the paiffe with sub-par hock flexion. In dressage, a horse with impulsion, action, and suspension will place well, however impulsion is always most important and the action of the joints must match the movement being performed. The key to quality gaits in any riding horse is impulsion, regardless of discipline. The amount and type of suspension and action that goes with that impulsion will vary by
    Discipline and the movement being performed.
         
        04-04-2009, 05:36 PM
      #17
    Trained
    Great article CJ8Sky, Thanks for posting!
         
        04-15-2009, 07:02 PM
      #18
    Trained
    I recently got a glimpse at what collection feels like. My sense of it was, the entire horse was moving as one flexible, powerful yet contained ball of energy instead of a head-neck-shoulders and haunches. It felt like one piece instead of several. The whole thing moved as one, turned as one, etc. I also remember feeling like I was riding a coiled spring, but not it the spooky tense sort of way. Just a lot of power available at a moment's notice.

    Regardless, when you get a few strides of it, you WILL feel the difference...and then you'll float home looking for someone to tell about it!
         
        04-17-2009, 01:33 AM
      #19
    Weanling
    My coach taught me what the difference of flexion and collection was and holy crap I was like what do you mean its not just all from working head? Then I remembered a clinic I had taken like 2 years ago and the light bulp glowed so light I swear if it was real it woulda burst lol.

    So now I know that to get true collection you need the hind legs to lift father underneath and stretch farther ahead. My horse nows flexion but not collection. She will break at the poll and be light on the reins but her back will stay hollow and her legs won't reach. It makes so much sence now and I now know how to ask for collection my only problem is timing!
    It has to be perfect! I have trouble with timing each foot and knowing when the inside leg is just about to lift so that I can ask with my leg for that reach. I had gotten it a couple of times today, but after a couple of steps everything would fall apart and we'd have to start all over again. I also did this bareback and I was doing it at a walk so its easier to feel the horse move, but when doing it at a walk you can't really feel it foot. I'll have to try it at the trot, Sorry I'm rambling now, I'm just so glad I had a light bulp on today! Lol.
         
        04-17-2009, 08:59 AM
      #20
    Weanling
    Okay, so... asking this as a beginner rider on a lesson horse, what would you say would be the first step in achieving a collected trot? After reading through this, I understand what is should feel like, but I'm still confused as to how you get there or what you would do first.
         

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