Originally Posted by Sara
You want her to learn that she can go forward freely without interference in her mouth. The contact will come with time.
/\ This is great advice.
When I first got my horse, I thought, "oh goodie, let's get him all collected and pretty!" But, as I was doing my half-halts, etc, I realized I was just making him stiff and choppy (although bent at the poll). His head may have been in the correct position, but his back, hip, shoulder, legs...bad! Not what I call collection!
So now, what I've been working on is impulsion. I've ignored the front end and concentrated on getting him to really push forward and use his rear end. I bought extra long reins and let him stretch out as much as he wants. Sometimes his nose is almost on the ground and oh, it feels so smooth and fluid, his tail lightly swishes, and he has a nice spring to his step. Now that he's getting stronger in the rear (after a couple months), he naturally lifts his back and lowers his head as I urge him onward.
Overall, to start training your horse to "be collected and tuck her nose in," ignore her nose. =) Get her rear end strong and responsive...then her back muscles strong and flexible...soon her neck will become supple...and down the road you can polish her off and easily tuck her nose.