Originally Posted by MHFoundation Quarters View Post
...The line of thought that it doesn't apply to trail horses or this horse or that horse, I can't agree with. Higher performance level of collection, probably not but some degree of collection, yes...
The point is not that a trail horse will never shift its weight to the rear (collect), but that the degree it needs to do so can be taught on the trail (or arena) without preparing it via the dressage scale of training. That training scale is relevant to what some like to call Big D Dressage, or what I argue is meant by the English word "dressage".
To achieve a collected gait (FEI definition) takes a great deal of work, and the horse needs a proper foundation - the training scale - to get there without injury.
However, a horse can back up smoothly, straight, and efficiently without needing to first achieve impulsion ("seen only in those paces that have a period of suspension"). A horse can back up well without a bit, or being ridden in contact. One does not need to work on the first 4 steps of the dressage training scale to teach a horse to back up. Mia backed up well before she knew what a bit was. It was probably her only skill at purchase...
As I argued in post #2: "But, for example, lots of horses ride fine without being ridden in contact. May ride fine bitless. But most horses have no need for anything but brief periods of collection, and they need a much milder degree of collection.
I currently have two goals in working on Mia's canter:
1 - Don't get so excited. It isn't a race.
2 - Collect - shift enough of your balance to the rear - enough to canter at a relaxed pace with a relaxed back.
I think we have achieved #2. Close, anyways. Achieving #1 is proving more difficult, in part because I have limited opportunity to canter her with another horse. We will get there, but her competitive approach to other horses still pops out at times.
That is NOT teaching her dressage. I do not need to work up the dressage scale to get there. The level of collection I need is much more modest than needed for dressage (the sport). It is thus much easier to teach, and requires far less preparation. Frankly, if Mia hadn't been raised in a corral, she would probably have known how to do it before I bought her.
But then, if I had bought a horse "perfect for a beginner", as advertised, the last 5 years would not have been nearly so interesting...