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how to get your horse more collected?

This is a discussion on how to get your horse more collected? within the Horse Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Horse face driving
  • How would you make a horse more collected

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    10-27-2012, 06:34 AM
  #11
Green Broke
When you say the first step is teaching her to break at the poll, yes, I will object to the way you teach collection. A truly collected horse never needs to be taught to break - they will do it automatically. Anything you do to "teach" this is just pulling the horse down onto their front legs. You say you teach it at the halt and "even backing" - how do you propose the horse learns collection with no impulsion?
     
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    10-27-2012, 06:45 AM
  #12
Green Broke
Adding: You said you ride in a western saddle, so I am assuming the problem here is different meanings to the word "collection". I mean it in a dressage sense - a horse that is working off the leg and seat of the rider, from the hind end, back into the rider. I don't know much about western collection.
     
    10-27-2012, 06:58 AM
  #13
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiilaa    
When you say the first step is teaching her to break at the poll, yes, I will object to the way you teach collection. A truly collected horse never needs to be taught to break - they will do it automatically. Anything you do to "teach" this is just pulling the horse down onto their front legs. You say you teach it at the halt and "even backing" - how do you propose the horse learns collection with no impulsion?
Excellent question actually. When I taught my mare to give vertically at the halt and then the back up, it was actually very early on in her training. Collection was the furthest thing from my mind at that time. I had a horse that was afraid of the bit due to being ridden in rather harsh bits at an early age. We went back to basics. Snaffle of course, and soft larterally first and then soft vertically. She learned that pretty quickly and it was simply part of her basic training.

When I decided to work on collection, years later....I could not figure out how to get that impulsion. I had not had the training. It was my trainer, who suggested starting off at the trot to "get the impulsion" that you were asking about. Whew.....I used muscles I didn't know I had. Once we had that impulsion, it was a matter of "capturing" it for lack of a better word. Asking for her face to soften while driving from behind allowed her to come under herself and round. At first I only got moments of it. Both because she was building up muscle she had not used before, and because the release allowed her to understand that was what I was asking for. When we get it right, it just feels right, I don't know how else to describe it.

You sound very knowledgable on this subject. I do not disagree with your post, in fact I wish I saw less people focused on the whole tucked-neck thing, it is appaling. Perhaps my post seemed focused on obtaining that vertical softness because it took more time for my particular mare to learn that than the impulsion. She is a very "under herself" built mare. Once she understood what I wanted, it was physically easy for her to give it.
     
    10-27-2012, 01:08 PM
  #14
Started
Chiilaa, there is a very important distinction between teaching a horse poll flexion and teaching them to "break at the poll"... these terms are not synonymous as you seem to have determined. Asking a horse to flex at the poll is essentially just asking him to do a few stretches, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask of a horse who is standing. As the horse becomes more familiar and comfortable with the flexions, they can be performed to great benefit while under saddle -- asking the horse to stretch and relax through the poll.

Isolating Lateral Flexion - A More Effective Stretch For Your Horse
     
    10-27-2012, 01:12 PM
  #15
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiilaa    
Adding: You said you ride in a western saddle, so I am assuming the problem here is different meanings to the word "collection". I mean it in a dressage sense - a horse that is working off the leg and seat of the rider, from the hind end, back into the rider. I don't know much about western collection.
Riding with collection in a western saddle should be the same concept as collection in an english saddle or whatever kind of saddle you have. Good riding is good riding. The only difference I can see would be possibly the conformation of the horse you are riding.

As I said before, you sound very knowledgable on the subject so I am sure you are aware that conformational differences can make it easier or harder for a horse to get under himself and drive from the hind end.

I essentally ride a mare who was bred for cow work. She has a huge hip and, as I said in my other post, built kind of "tucked under". It makes it easy for her to do the reining type moves of sliding to a stop, rapid back up, roll backs, fence work, spins etc. When she takes off, you gotta hang on or you'll be left behind

I guess, due to that conformation, when watching us, my trainer noted that she already traveled very correctly, driving with the hind end under her, but was not soft in the face. So that is what we worked on, me driving from behind while asking for the softness in the front. I can assure you, my legs and seat feel it when we work on collection, certianly not my arms or hands.....that would be horrible.

When you say that a horse should naturally soften in his face when driven forward, that confuses me a bit. How can they soften if they have not been taught to give to the bit with a basic give and release method? You have no idea (or maybe you do) how many horses I see that are not broke in the face and neck, meaning, they have no lateral control, let alone vertical control. Forget collection, they are a danger to the rider because if you get into trouble with them, they won't give laterally so you can get them under control. It a
Is a "hole"in training that I see all too often that is covered up with the use of big bits and other equipment to try to keep them under control. Therefore, I never assume a horse has that skill unless I see it or feel it for myself.

Giving to the bit is a basic skill that all horses should have and I guess I started with that in my original post because for me, even though it has been years since I taught her, that was the starting point of softness. It was by no means the end. My horse learned to give the five basic body parts early on too....1 & 2 -atlas and axis.... the lateral and vertical head and neck flexion 3-shoulders 4-mid body & 5-hindquarters.

I guess my thought is that you are coming from a more advanced perspective, assuming that the horse in question already has those traits under his belt, while I was kind of going back to early training because I see so many people aiming for collection on horses that are not truly broke through the body yet. They put draw reins, training forks, running matingales, huge bits, all in the name of getting a "headset" like you were talking about, and we both know that is wrong. My point was that to start, make sure your horse is truly broke and soft in the face. I guess I should have added body too, in retrospect. If he isn't go back to basics, or you won't be acheiving true collection when you do start asking him to drive from behind.

Whew.....this really is hard to explain.
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    10-27-2012, 07:37 PM
  #16
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eolith    
Chiilaa, there is a very important distinction between teaching a horse poll flexion and teaching them to "break at the poll"... these terms are not synonymous as you seem to have determined. Asking a horse to flex at the poll is essentially just asking him to do a few stretches, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask of a horse who is standing. As the horse becomes more familiar and comfortable with the flexions, they can be performed to great benefit while under saddle -- asking the horse to stretch and relax through the poll.

Isolating Lateral Flexion - A More Effective Stretch For Your Horse
I agree with you in part - all horses should be taught to flex. And, for what it is worth, the instance I was referring to did use the terminology "break at the poll", so I was not the one who made them synonymous. There is a huge difference between the two, and I was specifically referring to the "breaking at the poll" being the wrong idea for collection. Nothing to do with flexing, so please don't misquote me.
     
    10-27-2012, 07:44 PM
  #17
Started
Chiilaa, I think that you are the one who misquoted KountryPrincess in the first place. You were the first to ever mention "breaking at the poll", KountryPrincess didn't say anything about that. She spoke of flexion and giving. You seemed to misinterpret what KountryPrincess meant, which is why I tried to clarify and redefine.
     
    10-27-2012, 07:51 PM
  #18
Trained
I teach all my horses to soften their face as soon as they are started. Why? Because when I go to do it later, if I give the cue for collection, they aren't magically going to round. In fact, some of them will get bound up thinking I'm going faster, but they get confused by the halt halting an the leg at the same time. They learn to be soft in the bridle first, to stretch. Then, they learn to drive up into the bridle. You'd be pretty amazed at how much power these horses get with a lot of holding with the hands and just drive drive DRIVE from your leg.

Of course, I ride barrel horses. They tend to have a huge engine from behind as it is. Not saying dressage horse's don't because they do, it's just a differant type of "engine" in my experience. My lease horse, Arcadian, who was an eventer...He felt worlds differant in what we are referring to as "collection". When I asked, he drove into the bridle from behind and collected himself...But there was not the large amount of potential energy. It was simply a floating motion. Every barrel horse I've ever ridden has felt like you were pulling a rubberband back. The longer the band was pulled, the harder it was going to snap.

Does any of this mean I'm going to yank my horse's face down to their chest and drive with my leg? No. All my training is done in a snaffle, so I take contact with them, squeeze and drive with my leg, half halt, squeeze and hold, and I can just feel that engine working. Like revving the engine on **** nice truck. ;D
     
    10-27-2012, 07:59 PM
  #19
Trained
Just chiming in here: flexing at the poll (vertically) is just as bad as "breaking" at the poll. Neither encourages a correct contact where the horse stretches the neck and extends the throatlach into actually, a fairly strong contact. Contact is step number 3 on the pyramid, collection is last (6) and so not having a correct contact means you will never be collected in a classical dressage sense.
The horse never needs to be "see sawed", "vertically flexed" or "softened in the mouth" by action of moving the hand around. The hand is actually quite stationary to encourage the horse to come to the bit (sometimes quite strongly) and will supple the horse through action of the fingers to mobilize the jaw. In my PSG horse I regularity have 30-50 lbs of contact because he stretches the neck out, and the base of the neck up, to come into a correct and strong connection. Any backing off the bit or wavering in the connection (many times confused with "lightness") is incorrect and a huge hole in the training.

I digress from the point of this thread: no one can teach true collection online. You need to find a coach. Some things that it may help to Google or look up are the German training scale, USEF rules (which give a good explanation of all the dressage figures and movements), ultimate dressage (a good bb to read) and sustainabledressage.net

Good luck!

Eta: for western, I do not know if any of the previous holds true. However for those of us with dressage in mind, this is all true.
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    10-27-2012, 08:54 PM
  #20
Foal
Thanks Eolith and Sorrel for your support on this matter. I think I am going to step out of this one because I am starting to get confused and that probably means the discussion is not helping the OP at all. I absolutely agree that you cannot teach collection online, but I was just trying to share how my little cow horse and I have been progressing in that direction with *our* trainer.

It did not sound like the OP was aiming for Grand Prix dressage, but was perhaps more like myself, and just wanting to add some collection to her horse's bag of tricks. Our trainer is not a dressage trainer, I am not a dressage rider, but she is an excellent WP trainer who never uses gimicks in place of good training and I have tremendous respect for her.

Now I feel like I've probably just confused the issue for the OP, so for that, I apologize, and will respectfully sign off.
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