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post #1 of 4 Old 06-10-2013, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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How can you get a horse to collect itself from the ground?

Will lunging and double lunging work? Maybe backing and yeilding?

P.S. This is not for my filly right now, but another horse.
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post #2 of 4 Old 06-11-2013, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Breezy2011 View Post
How can you get a horse to collect itself from the ground?

Will lunging and double lunging work? Maybe backing and yeilding?

P.S. This is not for my filly right now, but another horse.
Remember the Dressage Pyramid:
Collection is the top block, you start with the bottom first and perfect those blocks before getting the top one.

I'm no professional, but this is how I did it personally;

The horse in question has to be moving energetically to begin with. Collected gaits will appear a bit higher-stepping, you should see the horse *swing* with a relaxed back. The impulsion comes from the rear, and travels through the back to the forehand. Any obstruction in the back, like tension or a conformational fault, will interfere with this. Some horses need more emphasis on relaxing, some need more emphasis on going forward. Signs that the horse is going forward correctly is a steady pace, tracking up (the hind hooves fit into the front hoof prints), and quick responses to verbal cues. You shouldn't have to cue go, go, Go, GO, GO!

Teaching a quicker response to cues is fairly simple, sometimes boring; with lunging, you give as small a cue as you are comfortable using (for example, don't use a raised hand as the cue to trot if you frequently reach up to get your hair out of your face, the horse will be confused later) and if there is no response in about 3 seconds, repeat the cue and take a step toward the horse, if there's still hesitation after that pop the whip/smack a lead rope against your leg/wave a baseball cap at him.

For relaxing and building that topline (the muscles running along the horse's spine) the horse should learn how to stretch out his neck in what is called the Long and Low outline:

You can get this a number of ways from the ground, so some experimenting is underway!
  • You can practice "endotapping", tapping the horse's back repeatedly, lightly, with really anything like a crop, whip, or flexible stick, at a standstill until the horse happens to lower his head and lick his lips, at which point you stop immediately, praise, and be done for the day, and gradually move it to tapping him while lunging for the same effect.
  • You can kiss or make a short noise repeatedly while lunging until the horse happens to put his head down just a bit, at which point you stop making the noise and perhaps let him walk for a bit and then do it again; eventually he'll figure out that the noise is asking for the stretch.
  • You can lunge out at pasture or somewhere with grass, or put something interesting and safe on the ground like a piece of tarp, so at some point the horse might lower his head toward the ground to sniff the object or grass, which you praise him for by letting him walk, stopping and petting him, giving him a treat, etc.
Or by technical means you can teach the horse to rock back on his hind end and lower his head by backing him with a cue, rewarding him only for the split second he leans backward in preparation to step back, and eventually using that cue while he is in motion when he can lean backward on cue from a halt. Some people see their horse flex and shift their weight backward if they back the horse in a corner.

That all by itself takes a fairly long time, at least some weeks, to get solid. Then you can teach some lateral flexing cues, but that oughta come a long way out, so don't concern yourself about it now, besides teaching the horse to move his hindquarters away from you and pivot in-hand for the sake of obedience and suppleness.

There's a fairly large movement for "Dressage at Liberty", liberty meaning that the horse is in an open space and has the choice to move about as he wishes with no equipment, the handler must rely on persuasion by being more interesting to the horse than the rest of the environment and being top dog on the hierarchy ladder. You can type into Youtube "Dressage at liberty" and should find a bunch of videos with how-to's and personal updates.

&bull; Index page < This is a forum focused on the dressage-at-liberty movement, you can bring your more specific questions there if you want.
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post #3 of 4 Old 06-11-2013, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you SO much, this helps A LOT!!! The horse in question is ALWAYS moving and very entergetic, yet stays focused on you when working and listens to verbal cues very well.
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post #4 of 4 Old 06-11-2013, 04:35 PM
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That was really good advice. You can teach a lot from the ground and it helps a horse find its natural balance and develop good muscle for working on a small area/circle which is a lot different to the way it moves on a large straight run which requires a lot less effort.
Verbal cues are really important and should never be skipped over as they translate under saddle better than anything else
Keep lunge work short and sweet and avoid strapping your horses head into a forced position with tight side reins or similar.
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