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amightytarzan5 07-15-2008 08:28 AM

Steps to Collection
What are they? I feel dumb asking this sort of stuff, because I should know it. My horse hasn't been ridden for a few months and I want to work on getting him nice, collected, and on the bit.

mlkarel2010 07-15-2008 01:28 PM

Softening exercises! You want him to respect the bit and be really light and responsive. Then he'll automatically flex vertically when you pick up the reins and automatically collect himself.

If you need more info on softening, just ask :D

Hrt4Dressage 07-15-2008 01:32 PM

This is a different horse than the one in the lunging post, correct?

First, a horse can be "on the bit" but not "collected". A horse should work on the bit at all times when ridden correctly and in a frame (of coarse just going for a pleasure ride is a different story... but for the sake of working your horses you should work him on the bit).

To get your horse on the bit...

You need to drive him forward with your leg, to get his hind legs traveling underneath of him. Start on a circle, and use your inside aides to encourage him to stretch forward and down with his neck and round his back.
Your inside leg encourages a bend through the rib cage (all too often people use the reins to "bend" a horse and the result is a horse that is straight through the body and is bent only in the neck). With your inside rein give a sueaze, release to encourage him to drop his head and reach out for the contact. Once he is moving well and doing this, pick up your outside rein and keep a light but steady contact with it, continuing the same thing with the inside leg/rein. The outside rein will give him some support (not support for him to hang on, but support to know his boundaries).

A horse that is pushing correctly and evenly from behind should ride on the bit.

Collection is the creation of energy, and then containing it so that the horse does not increase it's speed, but instead uses it's hind end correctly and compresses it's stride.

Create the energy first but adding pressure with your calf. Bring your upper body back, drop your shoulders back and down and tighten your stomach muscles (this creates your half halt). The half halt contains the energy.

hope that helps a little. :)

amightytarzan5 07-15-2008 07:32 PM

No, this is the same horse. We can ride him now!

I would like more info on softening though, mlkarel2010.

mlkarel2010 07-15-2008 11:41 PM

Stand still on his back with your body relaxed so that he won't back up. Take hold of both of the reins. Try to hold one a bit shorter than the other so that it's harder for him to lean on the bit. The best place to put your hands after you have hold is up against your thighs. Because it is more to the side and straight back instead of back and upward it is easier for him to understand what you want. Also, because you have your hands up against something stationary it's easier to tell when he softens.

At first he will probably feel tight and maybe even like he's pulling on the bit. Yes, this does happen even if they have vertical flexion, but we're working on softness and lightness and then head posture will follow. You need to hold your hands stationary until you feel him soften up when he's NOT moving, if he's backing up just wait for him to stop. When i say "soften up" I mean that he will bend his neck better and loosen his jaw to you. That's him pretty much saying ok I give. The instant you feel him soften give him release give him a giant release from pressure. The best way is to kinda throw the reins onto his neck, but if he likes to go, this isn't always the best idea, and i just move my hands really far forward quiker.

At first it is a really long waiting game and just hang in there! Even if you feel like you aren't getting anywhere, he'll catch on quick. Just don't give up, and if he's taking FOREVER to soften the first few times tighten that shorter rein a tad bit. Oh, another thing! Start with a little bit of tension at first when he's still getting the idea, but later you can add more. It's really great being able to see them learn how to soften up, and they are sooo much more fun to ride!

After he has a really good idea of how to soften using the exercise you can have him soften for longer times, maybe 3 seconds then release, then 5, and so on. Also you can do this at different gaits. Just start from the begining of the exercise for each gait, but when you are moving it's a really good idea to have your hands on your thighs because it's hard to tell when he softens otherwise.

If this sounds exactly like another post, sorry. I've given this out like 3 times in the last two days so I just saved it to a word document :D If you have any questions just ask!

amightytarzan5 07-16-2008 11:19 AM

I get it! This will really help me a lot when I start riding him again. i'll try to get a video taken of me doing these things and y'all can tell me if I'm doing it right or not!

mlkarel2010 07-16-2008 05:13 PM


Originally Posted by amightytarzan5
I get it! This will really help me a lot when I start riding him again. i'll try to get a video taken of me doing these things and y'all can tell me if I'm doing it right or not!

Sounds GREAT! Glad you understand and I really can't wait to see a video of Spider in action!

Solo 07-16-2008 07:33 PM

Hey sorry to kind of "butt in" on this post but I just had a quick question about one of the responses, which may be helpful for everyone (hopefully).

mlkarel2010, you said to hold one rein a little bit shorter then the other so he won't lean on the bit so easily. Should you alternate which side is shorter so (s)he doesn't build up more muscle on one side? Or is it just barely shorter?

I was reading this thread and was very interested in how you did this, I am currently training my four year old to collect himself. Thanks!

ally_loves_her_horses 07-16-2008 08:53 PM

soft hands, squeeze with your legs and relax.. sit straight and your horse should respond nicely.. if he gets it in the walk then the other paces will be easy .. and keep your hands still too. uhmm.. yeaa that should work :) and what mlkarel2010 said :)

Hrt4Dressage 07-16-2008 11:00 PM


Originally Posted by mlkarel2010
Softening exercises! You want him to respect the bit and be really light and responsive. Then he'll automatically flex vertically when you pick up the reins and automatically collect himself.

If you need more info on softening, just ask :D

I agree that softening exercises will help, as a horse that is stiff through their neck/body can't go on the bit or collect.

But I disagree a little with the idea of pulling back or holding firm until he gives to teach him, as it creates a flexion in the wrong place. Also, when you pick up the reins it will actually create the horse to be behind the bit, not on the bit, as a true "on the bit" comes from the hind end push so without the added leg on you will have only a head set.

The horse will flex in their jaw and the base of their neck (where it meets the body). Although this does bring the head down and somewhat round the neck, it doesn't round out the back, which is what working on the bit is really all about.

Also, you cannot create collection riding a horse front to back (ie, using your reins to get the horse to do something). Collection by definition is when a horse carries more weight on his hindlegs than his front legs. The horse becomes almost like a spring so that the energy being created is held in.

A better softening exercise I find is to have the horse standing still, keep your body straight and your weight even to prevent the horse from turning, and turn his head left, then right, the left, etc. to get him to loosen and stretch the muscles in the neck and gain an understanding of giving to rein pressure. It can also be done at both the walk and the trot once he gets it, and usually has a much more agreeable response than just holding until he gives.

Many horses will feel trapped when they feel constant pressure on the reins and will toss their heads, twist, and try to get away from the pressure before actually giving to the pressure. Not to say its entirely wrong, but if you truely want your horse on the bit or collected it won't get the job done.

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