On The Bit vs. Collection, and Where To Go From Here...
   

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On The Bit vs. Collection, and Where To Go From Here...

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  • Horse riding rising trot
  • What is a good collection bit?

 
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    08-28-2009, 10:21 AM
  #1
Started
On The Bit vs. Collection, and Where To Go From Here...

Okay, this is a bit confusing. My pony, Scout, is doing really well. We have walk, trot, canter (both leads), and halt. I have slow, medium, and fast variations of the walk and trot, and the canter is controlled. Backing is confusing for him, I think, but coming. My question is about collection and the quality of "being on the bit." I'm not sure where one ends and the other begins, or how to teach either to Scout. I have been researching and investigating this for several weeks, I know what collection looks like, and I have an image in my head of what it ought to feel like, and I know that I do not have it from Scout yet. There are a couple of pics of us riding in "My Barn," but I'll get some up in this thread soon. I want to do this right by both of us, and I would prefer to not use gadgets. I'm not terribly well versed in the use of side reins, martingales, draw reins, etc., and I don't want to risk royally screwing up with them because of my inexperience with them. I don't think he is evading the bit, at least not terribly. His nose pokes out, especially at the trot, but he doesn't gap his mouth at all. He does chew and slobber on the bit some, especially if we're just standing still, or if we've just done something new and are now relaxing.

I ride hunt seat, with an eggbutt snaffe with copper mouthpiece. My present tactic is to ride with a soft contact (like, it goes away when I transition to trot witout shortening the reins first), doing lots of circles (many different sizes, from little ones in the corners as I ride around the rail to half-arena circles and figure 8's. Sorry I can't be more specific about the sizes, but it is a big range) and transitions. Am I even on the right track? Scout has been "in training" with me since mid-May, and had had very little done with him before I got him. Am I getting ahead of myself and what can be expected of Scout at this point?

Thanks in advance for any and all input, and for reading my ramblings.
     
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    08-28-2009, 01:09 PM
  #2
Started
There is a book by Vladimir Littauer (Commonsense Horsemanship) - he trained the US 3 day eventing team in the 1950s- who writes about "collection". He promoted forward riding. A disciple of his Paul Cronin has written "Schooling & Riding the Sport Horse" ISBN 0-8139 2287 9 $29.95. The answers to many of your queries will be found in those two books - and they are written by Americans.
I have reached much the same situation with my own mare but I query whether for my usages I should proceed with going "On the Bit" - although my mare will suddenly drop her head to the "ramener" position
And go "on the bit"' if asked to do so. She does it on a very mild french link bit with no tiedowns of any sort. It looks lovely -so I am told, but is it relevant for me, I wonder. The head & neck suddenly drop, the pressure of the reins lightens and the back of the horse rounds up. But it is tiring for the horse until the muscles have developed. Getting the horse down, is more about pushing the horse on from the rear, than pulling it down from the front.

For horses going down the road into higher and higher levels of dressage it seemingly is a must. For show jumpers it helps get the horse balanced back onto the hind quarters. For trail riding and hacking it is probably irrelevant - as Littauer writes.
But if you read the books then you can make up your own mind.

Reading also thru the various chapters of www.sustainabledressage.com will help. As will looking up Wikipedia/"On the bit" - there is a good description there.

But this is one area where, in my opinion, you need a good instructor watching both you and the horse practising in the arena. A slight flaw in your seat will hinder and perhaps create problems down the line for the horse and maybe even you.
Please don't go the tiedown route - you'll perhaps wind up with a "false collection" - ie hollowbacked horse with nose pulled down.

Lord Loch gave me lessons years ago on his stallions. Nothing replaces being taught by a horse (as CS Lewis said). If you can find locally, a horse which will go "on the Bit" then convince somehow the owner to let you ride the animal. Training your horse to do it will take longer and first you must understand why and how. Allow that owner to ride your horse
In order to comment.

When you know all the answers then let me know.
Fascinating this hobby of horses -isnt it?

Barry G

PS Some breeds of horse with short thick necks - ie cobs with draught horse blood find this movement difficult - whereas warmbloods ie Trakheners make it look easy. Presumably a long necked, long and low, well balanced, QH was born with an advantage.
     
    08-28-2009, 01:43 PM
  #3
Started
Thank you so much, Barry Godden, for your advice. I will definitely look into the resources that you suggested. And, I can always use more books!

Here are some pics at the rising trot




And one at the canter:


Sorry about the sizes, I'm still fiddling with this...

To my primarily self-taught eye, he looks a bit less heavy on the forehand at the canter, but that could easily be the point in the stride that the photo was snapped. I do lean forward, a point that my instructor often pointed out and we worked on, but due to an assortment of reasons, I have not had a lesson in a couple of years. I'm resuming college next week, living on campus as required by my school, but I do intend to take a few lessons next spring if my work schedule and wallet allow it.

In the photos I'm not trying to achieve anything with collecting, they just show where he stands frame-wise. I have been sort of driving him forward from my seat and legs at the sitting trot, sort of sponging the reins, but all I have at present achieved with that is a faster trot that becomes difficult to sit. I do tend to have "puppy dog" hands, but I have a skeletal issue with my wrists and hands that makes the pictures look a bit worse, depending on the angle.

I do find that his nose drops down, not quite to the vertical, and cocked to the direction we're going in a circle, if that's important.

Thank you again!
     
    08-28-2009, 01:49 PM
  #4
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoutrider    
Thank you so much, Barry Godden, for your advice. I will definitely look into the resources that you suggested. And, I can always use more books!

Here are some pics at the rising trot




And one at the canter:


Sorry about the sizes, I'm still fiddling with this...

To my primarily self-taught eye, he looks a bit less heavy on the forehand at the canter, but that could easily be the point in the stride that the photo was snapped. I do lean forward, a point that my instructor often pointed out and we worked on, but due to an assortment of reasons, I have not had a lesson in a couple of years. I'm resuming college next week, living on campus as required by my school, but I do intend to take a few lessons next spring if my work schedule and wallet allow it.

In the photos I'm not trying to achieve anything with collecting, they just show where he stands frame-wise. I have been sort of driving him forward from my seat and legs at the sitting trot, sort of sponging the reins, but all I have at present achieved with that is a faster trot that becomes difficult to sit. I do tend to have "puppy dog" hands, but I have a skeletal issue with my wrists and hands that makes the pictures look a bit worse, depending on the angle.

I do find that his nose drops down, not quite to the vertical, and cocked to the direction we're going in a circle, if that's important.

Thank you again!
Based on these pictures you are not ready for any sort of collection yet. The horse is not relaxed or working with the bit yet.

Your contact is not there and until true contact is established the next step cannot be achieved.
     
    08-28-2009, 01:56 PM
  #5
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyder    
Based on these pictures you are not ready for any sort of collection yet. The horse is not relaxed or working with the bit yet.

Your contact is not there and until true contact is established the next step cannot be achieved.
Could you please explain what you mean by "working with the bit?" Is there more I could be doing to help him to relax and for us to establish true contact than the arena figures and circles that I've been doing, or just give it more time? I have all the time in the world to give to this pony, and I have no desire to rush him.

Thanks so much, Spyder.
     
    08-28-2009, 03:26 PM
  #6
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoutrider    
Could you please explain what you mean by "working with the bit?" Is there more I could be doing to help him to relax and for us to establish true contact than the arena figures and circles that I've been doing, or just give it more time? I have all the time in the world to give to this pony, and I have no desire to rush him.

Thanks so much, Spyder.

Take a look at this video.

While you may not get the full results PK is getting (after all he is a master) it is what I do with my horse to get him relaxed and working with the bit.


     
    08-28-2009, 06:39 PM
  #7
Started
That is a fantastic video! Really helpful! I definitely see now what I'm looking for, and what my next move needs to be, and I'll study the video and try that technique next ride.

Thanks so much!
     
    08-29-2009, 12:32 AM
  #8
Foal
It is wonderful that you are asking for help with such a complex training step. First thing I want to say though is, in your photos, the closest your horse shows to working toward proper connection, would be the canter photo. See how the horse's hind leg reaches well beneath his body and he is "sitting" on his outside hind? This is a good moment.

When a horse either does not yet know how to "seek contact" with the bit or the rider does not know how to achieve this with the trained horse, it is the rider who must first fix their own seat and correctness of the aids. This is why it would be a great idea for you to have an opportunity to ride a well trained horse so you develop the "feel" and learn what you must do with your own body in order to achieve the goal with any other horse.

The horse's back lifts as he engages his core muscles, thus allowing his hind legs to reach well beneath his body, lifting his withers and rounding over the entire topline to the bit. The only way for a horse to really be able to do this would be for the rider to "stay out of his way". You must be able to support the horse gently with your leg and your own core muscles...always riding the horse from back to front. If he is "coming through" from behind and you allow his back to come up beneath your seat, and then finally support him gently in the bridle, it will be easier for him to find connection.

Bending through the ribcage, asking him to yield his hind and forehand, proper half-halts (so he does not become heavier in your hand as you ask him to start yielding his body), transitions, etc... will all help to attain your goal.

Collection is a long way down the road at this point. After the horse learns to do his exercises with ease, not becoming heavy on the forehand, rushing, etc... then collection may come into play. Collection though, is simply greater engagement of the hind legs, shifting his weight from the forehand to the hind. In this way, he becomes very light in front of you and all of your requests are handled with great ease. You cannot force a horse into collection before he is ready (and it does not sound like you want to use force)!

Working to get your horse "through" from BACK to front is your first goal.

Good luck!
     
    08-29-2009, 04:41 AM
  #9
Started
Scoutrider.
Looking at the photos - sessions with a good trainer would sort out several problems for you. It is difficult to help you over the internet from static photos - you need the eyes and the hands of an instructor in the ring as you are riding.
And if you could then ride that instructor's own horse (presumably already schooled), that would be amazing.

But I repeat, read the books first and try to absorb the theory.
Then try to find a schooled horse which can give you the "feel" for what you are trying to do.
Eventually those of us who try to move our riding on come to "feel" what is right and what is incorrect. The reading alone doesn't really help with "feeling" partly because reading about riding and interpretating correctly what has been written is difficult.

There is a lot now on the internet but at some stage you'll have to find yourself an individual guru - whose style you'll want to follow - for a time.

Keep at it.
Barry G
     
    08-29-2009, 12:49 PM
  #10
Green Broke
*random question sorry*

Isn't OTB and Collection the same thing?
     

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