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Information on how to teach a horse to collect

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  • How to teach my horse body collection
  • Teaching a horse to be round and carry itself

 
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    01-22-2011, 09:38 AM
  #21
Green Broke
SORRY SHASTA! I got you and BSMS mixed up. That point should be aimed at her not you! In my defence I didnt sleep at all last night! Sorry!!
     
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    01-22-2011, 09:53 AM
  #22
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by faye    
SORRY SHASTA! I got you and BSMS mixed up. That point should be aimed at her not you! In my defence I didnt sleep at all last night! Sorry!!
Oh ok - I was confused there! Perhaps if I learned how to quote other posts instead of copying and pasting it would make things easier. Think I've got it now!
     
    01-22-2011, 10:07 AM
  #23
Weanling
Soo...

For those of us who did read this article, this conversation is a little confusing. I found things in the article that I think make sense (the lateral flexion and rhythm stuff).

Can anyone post an article that they DO agree with? This would mainly be directed at JDI and Spyder since they don't think this article applies to dressage necessarily...
     
    01-22-2011, 10:40 AM
  #24
Trained
"The aim of dressage is not dressage - the aim of dressage is to have a well school, responsive horse who is using himself well and powering from behind (the vast majority of thier power is in the muscles of the hind end). Horses move faster when using thier back end to power them rather then thier front."

That would explain why race horses use dressage to win...

No. The aim of dressage is dressage. Lower level dressage teaches and trains and strengthens the horse so it can shift it's weight far enough to the rear to perform upper level dressage. Dressage is a SPORT, and a subcategory of horse riding. It is not invalid or evil, but it is not just "training". If it were just training, then everyone who trains a horse towards any goal is a dressage rider. Barrel racers don't do dressage, and steeplechase riders don't do dressage, and anyone who pretends they do is ignoring dressage.

Why does dressage emphasize shifting weight to the rear? Because it is needed for dressage movements. Race horses power themselves from the rear. Barrel racing horses power themselves from the rear. So do cutting horses. So does my bitless mare.

This is not dressage:



Nor is this:



Nor here, in a third picture with ears back:




"A horse can go around slow with his head down or avoiding the bit, and evading by dropping behind the vertical as shown in most of those pictures throughout the article, and look "pretty" but be functionally strung out and not connected whatsoever tail to nose." Post 7

"the first horse is dragging itself round with its front end, back end is doing very little and the horse is very clearly not comfortable."

Here is the picture again (and since the original article was a blog post, the author may not have spent a lot of time looking for a picture):



Frankly, the picture isn't big enough to see if the horse " is tense through its jaw, stiff through its neck and those are not comfy "i'm listening ears" those are "i'm back because I'm uncomfortable ears".

Blown up and adjusting for color, the ears are neither pinned nor fully erect.

Meanwhile, the neck is level, the head at a comfortable angle for the horse to see, the legs have even angles front & rear, tail down but not clenched...I can see my horses in a similar position when moving on their own.

Now, let's talk about collection ("it means that the horse lightens up on the forehand, shifts its weight onto the hind end, and its stride shortens) as a goal. What is its purpose?

Let's discuss it from an engineering perspective. My mare Mia can generate X power with her hind legs. It can be expressed in the vertical or horizontal. If in the vertical, then it keeps her rear end up with some portion to spare. If she uses all of it in the vertical, it is a buck, unless she collects.

If used in the horizontal, it increases forward motion. If my goal is maximum acceleration and top speed, then I would ideally like 100% of X going into forward motion - but that would leave none supporting her rear. But for maximum speed and acceleration, I want a minimum amount of power supporting her weight, and most of it turning into forward motion. Since most of her powerful hindquarters are providing thrust, the lift (I spent a career in jet fighters) must come from her front legs. The rear is her engine, and the front legs are her 'wings'. Maximum speed and acceleration comes from carrying her weight with her front and letting her engine provide the thrust.

When do I want to lighten the front end and shift weight to the rear? If I want to be able to arc the front end in a circle while the rear stays still, then I want all of X supporting weight, and the front supplying the arcing power. That will provide the fastest pivot.

In a dressage ring, collection (as you define it) is important (presumably) for dressage events. Remember, dressage is a sport where you perform certain actions. It is NOT harmonious barrel racing, and you won't see a horse cutting cattle in Olympic dressage.

Outside of dressage tests, it has little value. Most people ride horses to move forward, not to spin in an arc around a point. Most equine sports - racing, barrels, campdrafting, etc - rarely need more than a momentary pivot, but that pivot must be followed by acceleration immediately afterward. Most racing, of course, requires no pivoting at all.

The ideal balance is based on what the horse & rider are trying to do. A horse can be well balanced and in control with most weight on the front, or rear, or in between. When someone says, "the horse can't collect and balance", they are confusing two separate issues. Balance is not collection.

I'm not attacking dressage. All I'm doing - and it shouldn't be even slightly controversial - is saying that dressage isn't the end all of riding horses, and that horses can be ridden well without collection, and that non-dressage riders often use the term collection in a way that differs from dressage - so read a non-dressage article without worrying if the horse is on the bit and collected like a dressage horse would be.

BTW: the author of the original article is April Reeves. A Google search turned up this quote, which I agree with: "
I believe in respecting all breeds and disciplines. Although many of them teach and use methods that may not be of use to you, they still are part of the big wide horse world, and becoming a ‘horseman’ is about knowing or respecting what and how other breeds and disciplines do things."
     
    01-22-2011, 11:34 AM
  #25
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
"The aim of dressage is not dressage - the aim of dressage is to have a well school, responsive horse who is using himself well and powering from behind (the vast majority of thier power is in the muscles of the hind end). Horses move faster when using thier back end to power them rather then thier front."

That would explain why race horses use dressage to win...

No. The aim of dressage is dressage. Lower level dressage teaches and trains and strengthens the horse so it can shift it's weight far enough to the rear to perform upper level dressage. Dressage is a SPORT, and a subcategory of horse riding. It is not invalid or evil, but it is not just "training". If it were just training, then everyone who trains a horse towards any goal is a dressage rider. Barrel racers don't do dressage, and steeplechase riders don't do dressage, and anyone who pretends they do is ignoring dressage.
I think that there is some misunderstanding here between "D" Dressage and "d" dressage. The word itself simply means training, fact of life. "D" Dressage is dressage applied to the ballet-style, judged event, sport. "d" dressage is simple good training, seeking to teach the horse to be a willing, relaxed, obedient partner in whatever discipline he will eventually compete in , or not, as the case may be. Every horse who will be expected to interact with humans as a willing partner is exposed to "d" dressage, or training.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
Why does dressage emphasize shifting weight to the rear? Because it is needed for dressage movements. Race horses power themselves from the rear. Barrel racing horses power themselves from the rear. So do cutting horses. So does my bitless mare.
"d" dressage (generic training) emphasizes shifting the weight to the rear because that is the most efficient way for the horse to travel in order to carry out any of the more athletic tasks that a rider would ask. All disciplines ask for engagement of the hindquarters and some weight shift back in accordance with what is required for that specific discipline. It's a matter of the degree of that shift, of that engagement, not whether it exists or not. A passage requires a weight shift, and so does a sliding stop.

Collection means different things to different disciplines. In "D" Dressage, collection (as simply as I know to put it) ultimately refers to the even loading of weight over all 4 legs. In other disciplines, the definition of collection can be satisfied by the beginning stages of "D" Dressage collection, or the beginnings of the horse working over his topline from behind. A horse can be collected in the reining sense, but not in the "D" Dressage sense. A horse collected in the Grand Prix "D" Dressage sense is probably collected in every other sense possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
"A horse can go around slow with his head down or avoiding the bit, and evading by dropping behind the vertical as shown in most of those pictures throughout the article, and look "pretty" but be functionally strung out and not connected whatsoever tail to nose." Post 7

"the first horse is dragging itself round with its front end, back end is doing very little and the horse is very clearly not comfortable."

Here is the picture again (and since the original article was a blog post, the author may not have spent a lot of time looking for a picture):



Frankly, the picture isn't big enough to see if the horse " is tense through its jaw, stiff through its neck and those are not comfy "i'm listening ears" those are "i'm back because I'm uncomfortable ears".

Blown up and adjusting for color, the ears are neither pinned nor fully erect.

Meanwhile, the neck is level, the head at a comfortable angle for the horse to see, the legs have even angles front & rear, tail down but not clenched...I can see my horses in a similar position when moving on their own.
There's nothing "wrong" with the way this horse is traveling per se, but it is a long way from collected, and there is nothing going on in this particular "moment in time" that suggests that that is being rectified. Note the footfalls - the horse is not tracking up: his hind hoof is not falling into the footprint left by the front hoof, I.e., the hindquarters are not engaged at the natural working trot. This is the definition of "strung out" and "dragging itself along on the front end." It is difficult for my eye to tell with the western saddle in the way, but this horse's spine appears inverted to me, and hence stiff, unrelaxed, etc.

If the hindquarters were engaged and the horse were tracking up, there is a massive loop in the reins. Not a bad thing - I ride with a loop in the reins at times myself. It's a good place for the horse to learn to relax and balance himself naturally. BUT, there cannot be any connection, any recycling of the power generated by the hypothetically engaged hindquarters if there is no connection from the rider's seat and legs to the horse's hindquarters to energy to the horse's mouth to the rider's hands and back to the hindquarters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
Now, let's talk about collection ("it means that the horse lightens up on the forehand, shifts its weight onto the hind end, and its stride shortens) as a goal. What is its purpose?(...)

(...)In a dressage ring, collection (as you define it) is important (presumably) for dressage events. Remember, dressage is a sport where you perform certain actions. It is NOT harmonious barrel racing, and you won't see a horse cutting cattle in Olympic dressage.

Outside of dressage tests, it has little value. Most people ride horses to move forward, not to spin in an arc around a point. Most equine sports - racing, barrels, campdrafting, etc - rarely need more than a momentary pivot, but that pivot must be followed by acceleration immediately afterward. Most racing, of course, requires no pivoting at all.

The ideal balance is based on what the horse & rider are trying to do. A horse can be well balanced and in control with most weight on the front, or rear, or in between. When someone says, "the horse can't collect and balance", they are confusing two separate issues. Balance is not collection.
In my (still learning) understanding, the purpose of collection in any sense is to have the horse relaxed, supple, and connected, with the degree of impulsion and straightness required for his level of competition in any discipline. A collected horse is an efficient horse - the degree of efficiency is dictated by the requirements of the discipline. It isn't a matter of collection/no collection, but of how much.

A horse can be collected on a simple straight line trot as much as he can be in a Grand Prix canter pirouette. It's only a matter of the horse being relaxed, rhythmic, supple, connected from the hindquarters forward, moving with impulsion and straightness, with appropriate engagement and weight loading on the hindquarters for the horse's level of training in whatever movement of whatever discipline he is being asked to perform.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
I'm not attacking dressage. All I'm doing - and it shouldn't be even slightly controversial - is saying that dressage isn't the end all of riding horses, and that horses can be ridden well without collection, and that non-dressage riders often use the term collection in a way that differs from dressage - so read a non-dressage article without worrying if the horse is on the bit and collected like a dressage horse would be.


The issue is that, no matter what sense we're talking about collection in, the goal is achieved the same way - engaging the hindquarters from the hind end forward and encouraging the horse to accept and carry the bit. This goes for "D" Dressage horses working on an obvious rein "contact" to a finished western bridle horse working on that lovely draped rein. Holding onto the horse's mouth until he evades the bit backwards and puts slack in the rein does not teach acceptance - it teaches avoidance, and that can be very difficult to fix with acceptance once ingrained into training. A horse ridden correctly, regardless of discipline, by a rider with educated hands and encouraging engagement of the hindquarters and all of the other things that I've been listing that deal with "collection" in any sense, will simply fall into that face-nigh-vertical frame.

Starting with getting the face on the vertical attempts to train the result, not allow the result to occur through proper work and muscle training.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
BTW: the author of the original article is April Reeves. A Google search turned up this quote, which I agree with: "
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
I believe in respecting all breeds and disciplines. Although many of them teach and use methods that may not be of use to you, they still are part of the big wide horse world, and becoming a ‘horseman’ is about knowing or respecting what and how other breeds and disciplines do things."
Agreed 1,000%. But, there's a difference between knowing/understanding/respecting and thinking critically about what is being presented.

Please, more experienced riders/trainers, correct me if I'm wrong about anything I've said... I'm still learning a lot of this theory.
     
    01-22-2011, 11:49 AM
  #26
Showing
Please note I took special care to not say "dressage is applicable to ALL disciplines." you are probably correct, it wouldn't help much in a race. Then again, racing itself doesn't really apply any other gait or movemenb other than "go forwards fast."
Reining is western dressage. Showjumpers couldn't do the courses they do without dressage. Cutters apply the same theories; the horses couldn't move the way they do without training - dressage. Trail riders control their horses gaits and lateral movements - dressage. Does your horse know how to w/t/c, change between gaits, and have some control within those gaits? Does your horse know some lateral movements? You've started dressage training then. It's just a matter of getting the horse moving properly when you advance your training.
For the record, some upper level dressage horses are strung out, hollow, and not connected. So even those who are supposedly achieving the "goal of dressage," well, haven't.
Most disciplines use at least the basics of dressage, they just don't call it dressage.
Same as the football players that learn the basics of ballet (I'm sure you've heard of teams doing that?) it is about improving balance and body awareness. I'm sure that my linebacker friend isn't going to appear in the starring role of Swan Lake anytime soon, but the training and coordination he learns helps him be more "together" on the field.
The goal in dressage is simply to train. And whether you like it or not, you are training your horse every time you ride. You just decide whether or not you want to do dressage (train) properly, in harmony and with proper posture and coordination, or not.
I will reply in further detail when I get to a full size keyboard :P
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    01-22-2011, 11:59 AM
  #27
Showing
Hm. If the second half of my post looks huge to anyone else, it isn't meant to be.
Good post, Scoutrider. I like the Dressage and dressage references. I am speaking about dressage, little d, being applicable to most disciplines, because it is simply learning how to move correctly.
Dressage training is almost like saying $1 dollar or ATM machine. Training training. One dollar dollar. Automated teller machine machine.
Posted via Mobile Device
     
    01-22-2011, 12:18 PM
  #28
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    

This is not dressage:



Nor is this:



Nor here, in a third picture with ears back:



I think you are a lost cause and anything we say is going to be immediately pho pho'd by you but I'll answer anyway:

Photo 1 - No that is not dressage but the horse has shifted its weight back into its hocks, rounded its back and free'd its withers. If it hadnt It wouldnt physically be able to make those turns, that is what dressage is all about.

Photo 2 - Have you ever worked with race horses? I have, i've ridden out on them and taken them on the gallops too (brings in a little extra cash) A good race horse trainer will teach a horse to use it's engine (its back end) properly. Note how the horses wither is the highest point of it's back and the whole picture looks uphill rather then down hill despite being on the down hill stride of the gallop. That horse is powering from behind, it has lifted it's rib cage and is using his tummy to support his back! If you gallop a horse on the forehand then it doesnt get anywhere near the same power, acceleration and stamina as a horse using it's back end well. No it isnt in a Dressage frame as such but it is using it's back end and it wouldnt take much to get it in a rounder frame and it all boils down to dressage (little d) where teaching a horse to use its back end is paramount.

Photo 3 - what a horrible photo, the horse looks stressed and unhappy. It is having it's back teeth hauled out by a very large guy.


Whilst ears back isnt always a sign of stress when you have been round horses as long as I have you recognise the body language and even on small photos you can pick out stiff, unwilling horses. That pally in the motion shot is stiff through its neck and jaw and is not happy with what it is being asked to do. Untill the horse relaxes its jaw and accepts the bit (which will release it's poll and conciquently it's neck) then it wil not progress any further.

BTW - did you know that ANKY Van Grunsven who for many many years has been world number one in dressage has also competed at the WEG in reining?
In this video of her first international reining competition I see a happy, well conected obediant horse that has obviously benefited hugely from Anky's Dressage background. It got her to the WEG so I'd say she was doing well!
     
    01-22-2011, 12:36 PM
  #29
Trained
Thanks for both responses.

Scoutrider: "I think that there is some misunderstanding here between "D" Dressage and "d" dressage." Good analysis and valid point.

"There's nothing "wrong" with the way this horse is traveling per se, but it is a long way from collected, and there is nothing going on in this particular "moment in time" that suggests that that is being rectified"

Fair enough. Things are relative sometimes. My mare will often trot in a very strung out manner - taking baby steps, only quickly. Awkward for both of us. What seems to be working is just keeping her going until SHE decides it isn't fun, and starts to engage her rear end, lengthen her strides while slowing the pace, thus keeping the same speed but moving more efficiently.

"The issue is that, no matter what sense we're talking about collection in, the goal is achieved the same way - engaging the hindquarters from the hind end forward and encouraging the horse to accept and carry the bit."

Hmmm...a goal, or a training means? I suspect it is easier to teach collection with a bit, but the bit isn't the end goal of the training, but a means of accomplishing it. It may well be that for the movements required by "DRESSAGE", a bit is almost always critical. For the degree of collection I need, it isn't. Mia CAN move in a collected manner to the degree needed for trail riding and general practice in the arena. She almost always moves that way on her own, so my challenge it to teach her to carry my weight using the same principles she uses when simply carrying her own.

And when it is right, it is right. I couldn't describe it in engineering terms, but it is obvious when things start to click. For a brief moment, we move like one. I know it and she knows it, and our challenge is to teach each other how to make those moments come faster and stay longer. She's pushing 10, and I'm pushing 53, so it is an open question if we will achieve it before we both need to put the saddle away.

"
It's only a matter of the horse being relaxed, rhythmic, supple, connected from the hindquarters forward, moving with impulsion and straightness, with appropriate engagement and weight loading on the hindquarters for the horse's level of training in whatever movement of whatever discipline he is being asked to perform."

Well said.

JustDressageIt: "Trail riders control their horses gaits and lateral movements - dressage"

Little D dressage...OK. However, the reason I and other western riders will buy books or watch videos or ask questions involving big D dressage is to see if the training techniques, positions, etc can help us achieve our goals. For example, I don't want to ride like nor my horse to imitate Dressage, but I might use a bit with her for specific training goals. (A young previous owner used a harsh bit "for control" and got rebellion instead, which is how I came to own her...not that it was a good idea for a beginner rider to learn by buying an Arabian with an attitude).

The idea is to look at what I'm trying to achieve with her, and then see if other disciplines have good ideas on how to train to those goals.

"Does your horse know how to w/t/c, change between gaits, and have some control within those gaits? Does your horse know some lateral movements?"

No, not well, sometimes and yes. Eventually, I'd like it to be Yes times 4.

"Most disciplines use at least the basics of dressage, they just don't call it dressage."

I suppose I'd phrase it, "All disciplines use the basics of riding, and the varying disciplines then adjust to achieve their desired end."

"And whether you like it or not, you are training your horse every time you ride."

Hmmm...I'm beginning to think I'm training my horse every time we MEET, let alone RIDE. And I suspect most dressage riders would agree with that...
     
    01-22-2011, 12:54 PM
  #30
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by DubyaS6    
Can anyone post an article that they DO agree with? This would mainly be directed at JDI and Spyder since they don't think this article applies to dressage necessarily...
I already wrote an article...

My Article part 1
     

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