Collected forward v.s. Soft face/breaking at poll v.s. Backing

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Collected forward v.s. Soft face/breaking at poll v.s. Backing

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    07-31-2012, 08:00 PM
Collected forward v.s. Soft face/breaking at poll v.s. Backing

I feel as if this is probably a stupid question, but I just can't wrap my head around it. So help me, please :)

Collected forward - while going forward, I'd put pressure on the reins to get the horse to break at the poll and give his face to me, while putting a little pressure on his sides to keep him moving forward into the bit. When he gives me his face while moving forward, I give him a release, and gradually ask for more as time goes on.

Soft face/ giving to pressure while still - pressure on reins, when horse gives face, release. If horse backs, keep pressure on reins until he stops, and just gives at a standstill.

Backing - if I was in forward motion, I'd release leg pressure to get horse to stop, take up slack/put pressure on reins. Bump sides to get speed/ impulsion ( can the word impulsion be used for backwards movement?)

I understand all of these concepts apart from each other, and how they would work. However, when I put them all together, my brain wires get crossed and then my brain short circuits. They all seem to use the same pressure to do different things. Rein pressure, leg pressure (except just giving at the poll). And I know that if I don't quite get it, I probably can't ask it from my horse. What am I missing here? And does this even make sense?

Or do I understand it, and just not understand that I understand it (yep... I just said that)?
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    07-31-2012, 08:20 PM
Collection and "soft face"/"breaking at the pole" do not belong in the same paragraph, let alone a thread title.

Do your horse a favor and throw every bit you own in a river and then call a coach to help you. Collection has absolutely nothing to do with the face, and everything to do with the hind end. Put your hands on the neck and ride to them. Your hands should not move, there should be no pulling, no breaking at the poll and especially no "face giving".

Good luck and maybe someone else has some pointers as well.
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    07-31-2012, 08:25 PM
You are thinking about collection and trying to achieve it in the wrong manner. It's nothing to do with your horse's face, that's just were it ends, it starts, as mentioned above, at the hind end. When I ride my horse, I can feel his muscles meet my calf muscles, that's the starting point.
HorseCrazyTeen likes this.
    07-31-2012, 08:32 PM
So I am wrong in thinking that collection is moving forward off legs, and back off hands?
And thanks for the luck... At this point, my brain needs it.
Wouldnt a horse giving his face to bit pressure vs bracing against it help with collection though?
And please don't think I'm asking for help and then trying to argue with advice. I'm serious about trying to figure this out, and appreciate any and all replies!
    07-31-2012, 08:50 PM
I understand what you are asking.
Coming from what I was taught I will try to explain what I know.

If you want your horse to understand the difference between flexing at the poll and giving to the bit at a stand still and then backing I cue differently.

For the back up I use basically the same cue for the stop. For a sliding stop I drop my ribcage, my hips are rolled under and my feet are slightly pushed forward to his shoulders(I was taught to "show them your feet"). And if I need to use my reins to help with the stop I lift up on my reins to help pick up the shoulders.
I would the same for the backup, I would roll my hips under, drop my ribcage, show him my feet and maybe pick up the reins. If he was sluggish I would slap/bump his shoulders with the inside of my feet. Don't drag him back with your reins.

And like said above collection is different, I ride them up into the bridle. Ride the horse from the back to the front. Use your seat and legs to drive him over the bit not your hands.
    07-31-2012, 08:54 PM
I forgot to type the part about flexing vertically at a stand post!

If you wanted vertical flexion at the stand still your seat and legs would be neutral. That way he knows the difference between the back up and asking for vertical flexion or breaking at the poll at a stand still.
    07-31-2012, 09:02 PM
FWIW: The most collected horse I've ridden is my mare...SOMETIMES when she canters. We don't have any good place to work on cantering - the arena is too small for her speed, and the trails mostly too rocky. When she canters, she sometimes becomes very extended, to the point of being dangerously on the front. She is getting much better about not doing THAT. I think she scares herself as much as she does me.

But sometimes, for a hundred yards or so, she'll shift her balance to the rear, reach under and give what is, for her, a slow canter that is very balanced and smooth. I can feel the change in her balance from front to the rear, and feel her driving but also using her hind legs for some of her support.

When she does this, her head comes UP, not down. I think that is part of how she shifts her weight off her front. In any case, it is probably as close as I'll ever come to riding a collected horse - and her neck is raised with her head about 45 degrees off of vertical.

Now, how would I train her to do that? I don't know. She seems to do it for the fun of it, and she only does it sometimes. It is one of those natural things a horse will do that dressage and some other disciplines build on, and I don't have the knowledge, skill or desire to do so. I normally think of cantering as a high speed gait, just short of galloping.

But I think collection has more to do with balance than with anything involving the head. I think that Mia & I move toward the collection side of the scale when I shift MY weight back but do so in a way that doesn't pound her loins. I think that is a biggie - when I can get my weight back but do so in a way that isn't like 175 lbs of rocks in a sack on her back. It is a rider skill issue from someone who has no natural ability as a rider. But when I do achieve it, she then feels comfortable with pushing under some with her hind end and supporting our weight more with her rear.

The folks that study dressage can probably offer you more.
    07-31-2012, 09:04 PM
So then would it be correct (or more correct) to say that I could collect my horse by holding my rein position steady, and push my horse into the bit pressure, rather than putting pressure on the reins and keeping leg pressure up?
I feel like I'm saying the same I?
    07-31-2012, 09:11 PM
Collection is so much more than an explanation, it's a feeling. My best advise to you, get a good instructor. We all get so good at doing the wrong things. I have even had a trainer I was working with, sit behind me on the horse and put her hands over mine and tell me how to move my body, so I would get that "feeling". Some peops get it naturally, some, like me, need to be taught it and work at it consistently.
HorseCrazyTeen likes this.
    07-31-2012, 09:12 PM
Originally Posted by COWCHICK77    
I forgot to type the part about flexing vertically at a stand post!

If you wanted vertical flexion at the stand still your seat and legs would be neutral. That way he knows the difference between the back up and asking for vertical flexion or breaking at the poll at a stand still.
So vertical flexion at a stand still vs backing up has to do only with body position? Neutral body position for flex at a standstill, and the 'feet forward' position I would use when I stop for backing - and my hands would do the same in either scenario. Correct? I know I'm repeating things... ( brain.... Short circuit)

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