Why is collecting a horse so hard :( - Page 2

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Why is collecting a horse so hard :(

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    05-28-2011, 07:29 PM
Super Moderator
Here is an example. I had a woman bring a wonderful 17+ hand horse to a clinic I taught in Ontario last month. The woman was a good rider and the horse was a nice mover, but the connection between impulsion and haunch was just inconsistent. As a result, there was some really hollow moments.

If the owner is willing, I am always ready to hop on a student's horse so I can feel what the horse is doing and what it will take to correct it. Then, I can coach the rider through it easier. When I got on her I was able to tell that the connection between seat and leg just weren't consistent. And, she needed MUCH more leg than the rider thought. Within about 5 minutes the horse had an AHA! Moment and suddenly shifted into forward. Yes, she worked much harder, but she was relaxed and happy doing it.

You need to understand that this is still not "collection". That is a way down the road when this horse is able to have the strength to carry himself much longer.

Knowing what was needed it took no time to help the owner find that special connection, too. They will be an awesome combination.

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    05-28-2011, 08:07 PM
You guys have posted very good and useful stuff! I'm noting it down. ;)
    05-28-2011, 11:49 PM
MIE and Allison said it all already. I just want to add that teaching horse to collect doesn't come overnight (especially if the rider is not very experienced).

BTW, good point, Allison. My trainer suggested me the same with my qh: get on her to see why neither of us can get it. She was able to make her move round (although not for long as she never did it before + lack of muscles) and it was easier to progress after that. P.S. She refused to get on my paint though...
    05-29-2011, 02:41 AM
OP, what you need now, to understand about collection (now that you have worked out that it has nothing to do with pulling on the reins), is that collection is NOT just a horse working round and over the back, and off the forehand.
As Allison said above with those photos - she had the horse off the forehand, into the bridle and much better over the back, however this is not collection. This is good, basic level dressage work how any horse should and can be working.

Collection is the next step up, and is not a singular term like 'medium trot', 'extended canter' and 'pirouette'. Collection comes in degrees. Collection refers to the horse beginning to transfer more weight over it's hind legs, which then transfers the power and engagement that you are creating in the hind legs, from forward momentum, to upwards energy. The more weight it transfers over the hind legs, the more elevated the pace will become, which is when you get piaffe and passage from the trot, and canter pirouettes from the canter.
The back is round and carrying the rider, poll at the highest point and the reins and bit are only there to 'complete the circuit' and act as a light guided in terms of flexion and maintaining a connection. If you ride with a loop in your reins, you have no connection and won't get "Dressage-collection" (for lack of a better term - apologies, I'm hungover!), just as if you are pulling back on your reins you're not getting a connection as by pulling the reins, you are essentially pushing the hind legs backwards.

A horse CANNOT be in collection unless it has developed the strength and training to do so. Just like a very unfit person who does not have very good muscle tone and strength, cannot lift 50kg weights the first day that they start training. It's all about gradual training and fitness work. A racehorse doesn't get broken in and then go and race the next day does it? No - it gets conditioned gradually with a very careful training program until it is racing fit.
Unfortunately people seem to take a horse's generous nature for granted and push too hard too fast, asking the horse to perform flying changes and pirouettes, before the poor thing is anywhere near fit enough to maintain this level of work. Then they wonder why the horse has broken down at 6 years old.
    05-29-2011, 08:24 AM
Thanks everybody :)
I know it'll take a long time to build her muscles. I only worked for 30 minutes yesterday (including warming up and cooling down). I'm going to ride today again and give her a day of tomorrow (she's not used to work).
I see that I didn't do it right even now... I only used my legs and reins. With seat you mean I have to intensly move with my horse (like in sitting trot)?
Allison, my horse moves just like the brown horse in the first pic.
Another question: do I need perfectly collected horse if I'm a trail rider? Kayty mentioned piaffes, pirouettes and other things, I understand-you could only do this if you have collected horse.
I want my horse healthy and enjoying riding but I'm confused about what exactly I'm looking for. Do I want perfectly collected horse or horse that carries himself like a horse in second picture, although he's not collected?

I see I'll really need a trainer for this one...
    05-29-2011, 08:36 AM
Green Broke
What others have already said is very helpful :) and spot on! I'll just add that it has taken me all winter to teach my mare to truly collect and that's after a year of just getting her muscles built up so it certainly won't happen overnight.

Just be patient and keep training and you and your horse's hard work will pay off in the end :)
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    05-29-2011, 08:58 AM
Originally Posted by manca    
Thanks everybody :)

I want my horse healthy and enjoying riding but I'm confused about what exactly I'm looking for. Do I want perfectly collected horse or horse that carries himself like a horse in second picture, although he's not collected?

I see I'll really need a trainer for this one...
If trail riding is what you do then you are not looking for a collected horse as described by the higher levels of dressage.

You should be aiming for a horse like the picture of the second horse but in a more "open" frame would be more than adequate.
    05-29-2011, 08:59 AM
Great thread and some great posts.

I want to piggyback on some of the things that Allison and Kayty said.

It's important to be very precise in your terminology; collection, on the bit, on the aids are used to mean a variety of things to a variety of people and disciplines and it contributes to the misunderstanding and confusion.

I dislike the terms "on the bit" and "in a frame" because it encourages the idea that you acheive it by riding the bit or the horse's head. I much prefer the term "on the aids." The second photo Allison post above shows a horse nicely on the aids - moving from behind, *connected* back to front, round through the back, attentive and obedient. You mostly feel this through the horses back; it rises underneath the saddle and suddenly the horses' rhythym is very clear. Your contact through the reins is more distinct because the horse has "picked up the phone" on his side of the conversation. Where the horse's head is positioned is incidental at this point; if the rest is correct, the horse will likely have flexed at the poll and brought his face closer to vertical, but really, it's the last thing to consider. This is the useful place from which all good quality flat work comes.

"Collection" is further along in the process. "On the aids" is the foundation for developing collection, but there are a lot of other building blocks on the foundation before you can get to collection: fitness and muscle ability, inside leg to outside rein, and the rest of the training scale - rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness. You can consider "on the aids" pre-collection if you wish.

Collection occurs when the horse "sits" behind, increases the angulation in all the joints of his hind limbs, shifts his balance rearward, and lengthens his topline while shortening his bottomline.

That some trainers muddy the waters further by calling on the aids "collected" makes it even harder for a riding student to understand.

Doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad trainers or instructors. However, if anyone attempting to teach these concepts starts out with the position of the head or how to ride the head and neck - RUN AWAY!

ETA: Agree with Spyder ^^ For trail riding and general riding, you want a horse that's connected, or on the aids - he'll move and cover ground more efficiently, and be more of a pleasure to ride.

End rant, sorry.
    05-30-2011, 08:31 AM
Everybody, you are a huge help :)
Are there any good books on this topic?
And if we stay on this elements: rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, how far should trail horses and riders come? To contact?
    05-30-2011, 09:10 AM
Really depends on how far you want to go and how much time you want to put in. There are lots of happy trail riders with horses that are not connected and go mostly on loose reins. Nothing wrong with that.

Getting the horse pushing from behind and using his/her back will make for more efficient movement and a more enjoyable ride, IMO.

Personally, I want a horse that does that, accepts contact, that I can shorten and lengthen at will, and holds a steady rhythm without a lot of help from me, and is naturally forward moving.

Other than stopping short of developing true collection , it just depends on how far you wish to go.

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