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SRriding 10-28-2012 07:10 AM

Collection, way below the vertical
I am three days new in English riding. My horse is collecting with the help of a martingale, however, now she is so arched, her face is practically on the ground! I tried putting my hands up higher, lower, I tried taking the martingale off, nothing I am doing seems to be helping. I tried to lunge with a head lowering device, but that seemed to make it worse! Does anyone have any advice? It is probably something I am doing wrong!!

DancingArabian 10-28-2012 10:00 AM

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Hi :)

A martingale doesn't help a horse collect. It can make a horses head stay in a particular spot, but that's not collection.

You can't be below the vertical, since the vertical is well...vertical. The horse can be in front of it(nose out) or behind it(nose too far in). It doesn't sound like your horse is arched at all - he wouldn't be able to do that and reach the ground. Without pictures we can only guess what the horse is doing.

The reins may simply be too long. What is the horses training and yours? Are you workin with a trainer?
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SRriding 10-28-2012 10:13 AM

Brand new :)
No training at all! I think you have totally answered my question :) LESSONS! Ha!! I thought if I watched and asked questions I would get it. We have a very experienced dressage/jumping trainer about an hour from me, I will make that call today. I wasn't even sure if I would like English, but the little riding I have done in the saddle, I really like it and I just can't beleive how comfortable I feel in the saddle.

katdressagegirl 10-28-2012 01:50 PM

So your horse is way behind the vertical...I totally get this because my horse sometimes has a tendency to do this. When this happens, you need to push your hands forward and get him moving! To collect a horse, you need impulsion. Obviously he is getting stuck and he needs to rev his engine (hind-end) and start pushing into the bridle instead of ducking beneath it.

One good exercise is the lengthening exercise. On the short sides of your arena, remain in a steady forward trot, but when you reach the long sides ask for more. Use whips or spurs or whatever you need if he isn't responsive. Also ride him in a forward posting trot.

When you get to the short side again, half halt him and go back to sitting trot. Be careful to not shut him down completely but just back to a good trot. Repeat this until he is responsive to your aids and moving well under himself.

Hope it helps a bit! Feel free to message/comment if you need more or whatever:)

SRriding 10-28-2012 03:59 PM

Thank you, I think I have decided to take lessons at least for the winter, so I am correcting her and riding her correctly. Once a bad habit starts its very hard to get them past it. I appreciate your reply and I am sure once I start with lessons I will be living on this forum!! It is great!!!!!:-)

DancingArabian 10-28-2012 05:45 PM

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Lessons are the best thing :)
People often start thinking about collection and English riding and confuse headset with collection. What happens is that when taught properly, the horse sets his head at the right place due to the way the rest of his body is conditioned and worked and the way he's ridden. That's why it's one of those things you really can't teach over the Internet :) in a very eye simplified explanation, when he gets his butt under himself and lifts his back, his body gets round and the head comes down.

It sounds like your horse is going with its head way down, which could be because the reins are too long or it could be another problem altogether.

Good luck!
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MyBoyPuck 10-28-2012 08:53 PM

Does your horse stretch his neck down forward to the ground or suck behind the bit and put his head to his chest? Does he keep the rein contact or do your reins go slack when he does it?

A horse that has formerly been trained to go behind the vertical is very hard to fix. First make sure the bit is not causing problems. Perhaps it is a loose ring that is pinching, or a mouth piece that is too fat. Anything the horse doesn't like about the bit might be the source of the problem. Once the bit is ruled out as a problem, proceed onto retraining. First ditch all tie downs. Forget about his head and neck for now. You want the horse to stretch forward to fix this. On light contact, pick up a trot and just ride forward, forward, forward. Once you have forward, incorporate large circles. The natural bend of the circle allows the horse to balance on the outside rein start to take proper contact. Any time the horse reverts back to sucking back, transition to walk and right back to trot.

While you're doing all this, be sure to keep you contact, light, consistent, and elastic. Put your hands out in front of the pommel with your elbows hanging at your side, and keep them there. At no point should you be pulling back. We are all guilty of it, but just start trying to be aware of what your hands are doing. You want your horse to like the contact he is feeling and want to stretch into it.

Sorry I wrote a book. Hope it makes sense and helps.

Back2Horseback 11-02-2012 05:00 AM

My Boy Puck...don't know about the OP, but I always really enjoy the way you explain things. What you wrote to her ALSO helped ME with a particular issue I've been tossing about in my head, so thanks a bunch! :0)
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MyBoyPuck 11-02-2012 07:10 PM


Originally Posted by Back2Horseback (Post 1741207)
My Boy Puck...don't know about the OP, but I always really enjoy the way you explain things. What you wrote to her ALSO helped ME with a particular issue I've been tossing about in my head, so thanks a bunch! :0)
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Thanks. Glad it helped. I tell ya, if I could ride anywhere near as well I explain things, I'd be one heck of a rider. I think I missed my calling as a teacher.

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