Building topline and collection

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Building topline and collection

This is a discussion on Building topline and collection within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • What causes a horse to lose topline condition
  • Building your horses topline and collection

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    05-30-2008, 10:22 AM
Building topline and collection

Alright I've been talking about this in my critique section when I asked everyone to critique Sonny...but thought I'd move the topline part over here.

Sonny has little to no topline and I'd like to be able to build it back and get him to be able to collect properly (i.e. Back rounded and actually using his hind legs)

What are ways to get him a better topline? I know long and low is one way, and I can get him to do it but with my hands low and out but not when I try to raise my hands and put them where they should be.
What other ways can I do it? I know there's the ground driving way, and I'd love to try it, but the equiptment is a little much...Appy showed me a fairly cheap one that she uses for Vega but it almost appeared like it was missing a part...maybe not couldn't tell from the ad on the internet.

Also, for correct collection how can I go about teaching him that?
I can get him to put his head on the verticle by my just raising my hands a bit (meaning when I don't have it, I put my hands down lower and neck rein...but when I want him to get his 'headset' I'll raise my hands a bit and put them in the right place).

He bends nicely...his neck bends inward when doing circles...haven't tried having him bend outward also for circles.

I can have his head bent to the inside or outside while going around the arena (walk and trot...have not tried it yet with a canter).

He leg-yields good (just stubborn at times), and backs up, and turns on haunches and forehand (only when I get my cues right hehe).

I'm hoping to possibly show him western pleasure, but I don't want him to have the low "I'm sniffing the ground" head...I want him to be collected, back rounded, reach well with his hind, and have a nice topline if I do some halter shows (which I'd like to do also, but not sure if I can)

Also, any pics or videos to show how to get a horse collected or a horse with a good topline is greatly appreciated....even just some good pictures of a horse properly collected with back rounded will help also. Thanks a ton!
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    05-30-2008, 02:25 PM
No one? :(
I've heard also that having the horse turn their head to the inside while doing their gaits is "collection" but then again I heard that collection is also just having the horses head on the verticle.

Collection question:
If collection is so important for dressage horses whil performing, why do none of them have a rounded back?
    05-30-2008, 03:04 PM
The training system that I have, it has everything there, except for a surcingle or a caveson.

Other than that, it's all there. Jazzy has a similar system to what I have.

If you go to the instructional videos, she puts it on Jarred so you can see how it goes.
    05-30-2008, 03:23 PM
Super Moderator
He looks like he travels on his front end... do you have any trot photos?
    05-30-2008, 07:27 PM
Collection is NOT entirely about the headset! In fact, it has little to do with the headset at all.
Collection is rather that the horse is working off its hind end, working through its back to get its weight off the forehand. The horse takes shorter strides than in a normal (working) gait. The horse should feel like a giant spring where extension can come from.
Without collection, the horse is unable to achieve correct extension.
Topline can only come from the horse working in a correct frame - good luck building it in any other way. (And if anyone can prove me wrong, I would love to hear it!!)
If you can get him to get in a frame with your hands low, slowly start raising your hands to the correct position - he shouldn't need your hands to be low to work in a frame.

PS - having the head bent to the inside may not mean the horse is truely bent to the inside (or outside) so make sure you're asking the horse's ribcage to bend as well.
    05-30-2008, 10:05 PM
Originally Posted by farmpony84
he looks like he travels on his front end... do you have any trot photos?
yeah....lemme find them

These were taken at different times...

JDI, yes I know having the head at the verticle isn't collection, but I was just saying that's what I originally thought.

I'll have a friend take some pics and videos of me trying to get Sonny's head low and then some of his head turned inside and then random videos of me trying to get him to round his back (no idea how I'd attempt that though)

The thing is though most of the BOs horses have a good topline, yet they don't really do anything differently than I do. Does riding alot cause them to loose the topline?

What exactly causes them to loose the topline?
    05-30-2008, 11:29 PM
What exactly causes them to loose the topline?

... lack of working in a proper frame.
    05-31-2008, 09:11 AM
Ok thanks JDI....I've heard that it can be built up also with some type of "topline builder" food, but I think that might be more of a gimmick than anything.

I'll get some videos of Sonny and me tomorrow (if I can find someone to record them) and I'll try to get him long and low, etc
    05-31-2008, 04:09 PM
Super Moderator
He's definitely traveling on his front end. He's a cute horse though, really cute. You need to get him moving from his backend. I'm not really good at wording things but let me try... You need to push him forward with your leg, but at the same time you want to hold him back, I don't mean lug on his reigns though, this is where the headset comes into play, you want himtraveling underneath himself, moving from the back end and I am not capable of explaining it... someone help!!!
    05-31-2008, 05:42 PM
Farmpony...are you just trying to say to get his back rounded and pushing himself with his back feet instead of pulling with his front?
How can you tell though? What were you looking for?

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