Collection and Getting the Head Down

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Collection and Getting the Head Down

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

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    09-21-2010, 01:44 PM
Collection and Getting the Head Down

Here's a question for you all...

I want to get my horse to collect (she actually did it on her own when I nixed the bit and rode in a halter) but my trainer uses side reins and a neck stretcher. I hate devices.

I read an article in one of my riding magazines in Conformation Insights about getting the horse to break at the pole, not at the third vertabre. It talks about getting the horse to raise the base of the neck. The article also mentioned the pole should be at the highest point, not below the break.

Any input or advice on raising the base of the neck and getting the break at the pole?
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    09-21-2010, 02:03 PM
Collection =/= to headset.
You can have a "headset" without collection, but that doesn't make it right. If you want to have a true "headset" then you need to learn how to ask a horse to travel round. Collection stems from this whole idea; a horse must shift its weight onto its hindquarter to collect. When the horse is correctly round, the head will be in the right place.
    09-21-2010, 02:05 PM
Lifting the base of the neck comes from the correct balance on the hindquarters and the position of the arm/hand
    09-21-2010, 02:08 PM
Originally Posted by Charis    
Collection =/= to headset.
You can have a "headset" without collection, but that doesn't make it right. If you want to have a true "headset" then you need to learn how to ask a horse to travel round. Collection stems from this whole idea; a horse must shift its weight onto its hindquarter to collect. When the horse is correctly round, the head will be in the right place.
Okay, that makes sense. Getting the horse to travel round is getting her to bring her hind end under by pushing her forward but holding with the bit to keep her from going faster, right?
    09-21-2010, 02:08 PM
I read that in Equus too. I also hate devices. And I am working on this with the horse I ride. What I do is, keep a steady pressure with the horses mouth, this was hard for me to get used to since I don't have heavy hands. Keep the same contact with all gates, and do a lot of transitions, the whole time keeping the same pressure...dont give with your hands when you are trying to speed up and don't take too much when you are slowing down. The whole time you are keeping pressure on their mouth keep the same pressure with your legs. I found using spurs really helps with this. And keep them moving through your legs. Even when you are stopping keep your legs on.

It took me a while to get used to this..but it has helped a lot.
    09-21-2010, 02:21 PM
You want LIGHT contact into the bit; you don't want to think about holding the horse back with your hands; that's what your seat regulates. Have you ever heard the term 'riding the hind?' - that's exactly what collection and roundness feels like; that you have the whole horse between your leg, seat and hand. It sounds like you're on the right track with your description. There are a ton of threads on this forum regarding collection, it's a great place to start your search.
    09-21-2010, 02:30 PM
Thanks, I will take all this into consideration once I get the bit problem worked out. Can't wait for tomorrow's Fed Ex delivery!
    09-22-2010, 11:36 AM
Col. Podhajsky’s words:
1. The face must never come behind the vertical, as in this case the horse would be over bent and not go sufficiently forward.
2. The poll, however, must be the highest point of the horse’s head regardless of his conformation.
3. This points to the necessity of sufficient freedom for the head in the extended paces.
4. It must be emphasized that the correct position of the head cannot be obtained by strong action of the reins, which would only shorten the neck.
5. The position of the head is the means, the paces the object, of dressage. The correct position of the head will be the result of contact and balance, both developed by riding briskly forward, and will make it easier for the horse to follow the commands of the rider given through the reins.
    09-22-2010, 12:10 PM
When it comes to getting your horse onto the bit and "collected", imagine you are pushing your horse into your hands from behind. For my mare, I put on some calf pressure and don't give her any more rein than what I started with when I asked her to trot: she will then lift her head (from the base of her neck) and tip it over at the poll, so her ears are forward. I take up the reins to maintain consistent contact throughout the motion. In her case, I know she's collected NOT by the fact that she lifts and tips, but because her fancy trot smooths right out and I can sit it easily without jarring either of us :) I mean, that's not the only reason I know (I can literally feel her rounding)... but you get the point :)

PS: She learned better from a sitting trot, I think using a driving seat helped her understand the "go forward enthusiastically" part of collection, haha. It sounds like you've got a good start!!!
    09-22-2010, 06:02 PM
In order to collect the horse must lower it's butt - that means you start by ensuring the horse is "in front of your leg" - not barely engaged. This does not mean the horse needs to run, it DOES mean that the horses hind legs are coming underneath the horses body enough that the horse can start to compress it's hocks and elevate the front end.

So using side reins on the lunge (NEVER riding with side reins as it's dangerous), the handler uses a whip to activate the horses hind quarters and "pushes" the horse into the side reins. When the side reins don't allow the horse to push it's nose out and the handler is keeping the rear end activated, the horse will step underneath itself more...hit the reins...and "give" at the poll.

Neck appears to be elevated because rear end has been lowered.

You need to see it done correctly and incorrectly so you can see the difference. Hopefully someone on this BB can point you to video's where it's done correectly. There are TONS of them where it's done incorrectly. Looking at my avatar the horse is moving "uphill" and giving in the poll even though it's "nose" is in front of the vertical. At the lower levels of dressage this much in front of the vertical is VERY acceptable, as you move up the levels the horse will (if ridden correctly) compress (shorten) it's neck WHILE still retaining that "arch".

One other thing. Once horse starts doing it correctly gives LOTS of walk breaks (easiest to do at trot) where side reins and removed from bit so horse can put nose down VERY low and stretch out the muscles in it's back. It's like they have to learn to walk differently than they have before and developing new muscles takes a LOT of time and can hurt if not stretched out before during and after use, so when riding that's lots of LONG and LOW to allow back to stretch.

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