For a horse to achieve True Collection - that takes a long process of hard work. Consistant flat work, consistant conditioning and Educated Cues/Aids from the rider.
A horse has to build the essential muscles, use their essential body parts for everythign to start to work together to achieve True Collecion - and yes, this doesn't happen with fidgeting with the face or a couple of weeks. This can take up to years of proper flat work to achieve this.
A horse to have a topline, engaged back end, tracking up, light on their forehand, soft in the poll first and foremost.
Ride back to front, not front to back. The headset comes last in this equation. Not first.
Seat To Legs To Hands To Soften
You cannot ride the front, you have to ride the back.
You have to start with the basics and work your way up. Any unconditioned horse, green horse, young horse, new to the scene horse - cannot be on the bridle right away. They have to learn how to work their hind end, has to learn how to track up, lift their back and get off of their forehand.
Your seat rides the back end.
Your legs ride the ribs and back
Your hands are there to recycle the energy you just created. They are not there to hold the face or force it into a false headset. Your hands ride the shoulders - not the face.
Even a well rounded, well schooled, master needs this - whenever a rider asks for a false headset by fidgeting with their faces - they are riding incorrectly.
Don't be one of those riders
There are lots of exercises you can do to help with this , Long And Low is a great aid - but so is hacking, so is proper flat work - circles, bending, serpentines.
All your horses muscles are connected, and in order to build up one section of your horses body, you have to focus on all parts.
The back has to be utalized, by creating a domino effect of engaging the back end, allowing it to drop and having her to track up. Tracking up, then therefore means the back can lift and work.
Your seat comes first to get the back end working accordingly. Then your legs come second to ride the ribs and lift the back. The topline then can be focused on beacuse the muscles through the pol to the hind end are being activated.
Your seat plays a big part - your seat not only has to be functional *al 3 points.....two seat bones and crotch* but focusing on freeing the back to beable to lift - by allowing all your weight to distribute through your upper body down into your heels.
The back end has to be working, the horse has to be tracking up, then the back can lift.
Your hands are very important as well - you cannot be holding her face in compacting her in the front. Your hands cannot be blocking the flow you've created by being stiff, forceful or holding.
You have to have functional hands. Soft, giving, supportive and lifting.
You ride inside leg, to outside rein. Your horse has to beable to carry herself *only when you've targeted her back end, legs and back* through your outside rein. Your outside rein now is recycling that energy you've created to flow back through.
There has to be forward movement, there has to be impulsion, there has to be rhythm.
Your horses has back to beable to stretch out and be opened.
Allot of flexion work, allot of circles, allot of transitions - walk to trot, trot to walk. Halt into trot. Backing up, push into trot. Hilll Work.
The LAST think you want to focus on, is where the headset is. Ride Functionally, Thorough, and be patient and consistant.
There is allot at play where functional riding comes into factor. Everyone talks about how to get the horse to do what you want - but you cannot do that, if you don't even know how to use your body.
You are the most important factor in this picture. You are your horses trainer every time you get into the saddle. Your horse reflects YOU. Your horse is only as good as you are.
You have to know how to ask the correct questions, to get the answers needed - according to each horse.
There is 1 generic rule of thumb. I hear it all the time from great riders:
Seat To Legs To Hands To Soften.
Easy right? Riiiiiiiggghhhht......easier said than done. But when you figure it out - you will have that large light bulb turn on, over your head - and you will end up saying to yourself "OOOOOOOOOOH!!!"
1) Your seat is very important as is every other part of your body. You seat must be functional, but over active - but functional. You must be balanced - on all 3 points. Seat bones and crotch.
Your seat controls the back end. Whatever tempo your seat is going, your horse will come to you.
It must be soft when needed. It must be engaging when needed. It must speak to your horse at a whisper.
When you post......your rise must be minimal, just a smidge out of the saddle - not big and loud like we see. Believe it or not - it should not land back in the saddle when you go down. Your breeches should just brush the seat of your saddle and all your bodies weight should be in your heels.
If you are effecting your horses back, the back will not lift.
Our horses backs are VERY sensative.
Slow your seat, your horse slows. Activate your seat, your horse activates.
Harden your seat, your horse hardens.
No matter what your seat does - it should never effect your upper or lower body.
2) Your Core is connected to your lower back, your lower back is connected to your seat. Without your core, you have nothing. Your core is the center of it all. You have no lower back, you have no core. You have no seat - you have no lower back.
While sitting in your chair, rock onto your croctch - what happens to your lower back and where is your core? Can you feel it?
Now rock back onto your 2 seat bones and straiten your lower back - where is your core? Can you feel it?
The moment your hollow out your lower back, your balance has now gushed out the front of you, and you've lost your core. The moment you roach your lower back, your balance has gushed out the back of you and now you have too over active of a core.
You must have balance.
3) Your legs. Must be just as functional. Your legs ride the ribs - your legs ride the back. Your legs keep the impulsion you've created through your seat. Once you've created the needed rhythm through your seat, your legs now aid in that department.
Not by being nagging or loud. But just by being there - saying - yes, this is what I want.
Your legs support, your legs bend the ribs, your left lift the back.
There cannot be any gripping. There cannot be any pinching - and all your bodies weight should be allowed to flow through your body and down into your heels. Everything is absorbed into your heels.
The moment you grip, the moment you pinch - you've now blocked that flow.
4) Your upper body is important. You lean forward - your weight is now on your horses forehand. You lean back, you are now behind the verticle. You must have balance. You must be over the center of your horses gravity - always! The moment you are out, your horse is now too.
Your shoulders are connected to your elbows, your elbows are connected to your hands. All must be functional - without one, you've created the domino effect of unfunctional hands and upper body.
You drop your shoulders meaning - you allow the to drop, slouch, roaching your upper back - where does your center balance go? What happens to your lower back? Where did the angle of your elbows go? Where did your hands go?
All are united together to play the part of functional riding.
4) Hands - hands are so important.
MANY RIDERS RIDE WITH TOO LOUD OF HANDS. Why? We want to hold that face in. We seem to think our hands ride the face - when in reality, our hands ride the shoulders.
Our hands are there to keep your horses shoulders under them, and to keep a functional outside rein.
Your seat rides the rhythm. Your seat rides the tempo. Your seat determins the tempo and flow. Not your hands.
Your hands are there to be soft. Be supportive. Be lifting.
They cannot be functional when they hold, when they force, when they pop the horse in the mouth. They cannot do their job accordingly when they are stiff. That is not what they are meant to do.
Your horse has to beable to move forward, to open up and into him/herself. They cannot do that if you have too much contact, they cannot do that if you are controlling their face or holding their face in.
Leave their faces alone!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOUR HANDS ARE NOT TO RIDE THE FACE - BUT THE SHOULDERS!
Your outside rein is meant to support and allows all that energy you've created through your seat and your legs - to recycle back through. This way, your horse is lifted, your horse is supported, your horse doesn't drop and go flat and on their forehand.
All of your body parts, play a big important part of getting the ultimate goal of riding collected, getting your horse soft at the poll, getting your horse engaged, well rounded and onto the bit.
Without one, you don't have the other.
Now do keep in mind, everything isn't always together. Sometimes you have to compromise one to get a question you ask, clear to the horse. Or you have to compromise to accomodate the horses needs.
But your balance in the saddle, is essential. You are out, your horse is out.
In order for your horse to truely be collected - comes through consistant, persistant, functional work - to build all the essential muscles in order to do so.
In order to do so - there must be a united connection of CORRECT aids - via the rider