This term is used so much that it becomes a description for any horse that is just running around not all stretched out.:shock:
Some of the problem is the general feeling made up by a rider that may think they have collection and sometimes it is a trainer/coach's fault in not properly describing it.
When I talk to a "trainer" I can determine instantly if they even understand what it is by their answer so I have a question for everyone...
If you were a trainer, describe collection's FEEL to a rider (not how it should look, but how it should feel ). Use either what you know or what your trainer/coach told you.
Again describe the feel, not the look.
I have heard lots of ways to describe collection. Riding a wave, riding up to the sky, sitting on the horses hindquarters, etc. I think as far as describing it to people, everyone feels it differently and personally I don't like describing it to riders. I think that many trainers focus too much on the end result, but cannot help their riders on the path to get there and many dressage riders get caught up on the "c" word. Collection is nothing but an obstacle in the path of training a horse to the higher levels, and yes it is probably the biggest hill to get over in the entire course. But we can't get hung up on it.
For me collection is the feeling that I can sit on the horse and perform movements with light aids. I know my horse is collected when I can sit and do almost everything with my seat. The ability to ride the horse and his gaits with ease. Etc..
I don't see why you would ever need to explain the feeling to a student. Tell them how to get there and they'll find it for themselves. If you are teaching a student advanced enough that you are working on collection then it shouldn't be a tough thing for them to grasp because they will have the feel of the horse already.
I would want any student to be able to understand what they achieved when I may not be there when it happens.
I remember the first time it happened to me and I was cantering. Asked the same way for months then it was almost like he shifted into another gear but not faster. I almost ruined it by starting to poke him with my spur more but decided not to. It lasted for about 10 strides then fell apart (mainly because I sat there like a dummy wondering what I was supposed to do).
After telling my coach at the time she told me that he must have had enough power built up that he held the collection and then lost it. I knew from that moment on what I was looking for and it evaded me for some time after that. If I had known before what to expect I might have had it longer or maybe not but I would not have wondered if I did something wrong.
Collection as a feeling has never been explained to me. Biomechanically it has, and all the steps to get there have been, but never the feeling of it. I can ride a horse in collected gaits and do collected movements on them and that is how I tell if the horse is collected. I do however come from a scientific background and am very black and white, do or don't, is or isn't. If you ride the horse properly to collection, the horse will be collected. If the horse performs collected movements with ease, it is collected. Otherwise it is not.
Also: I didn't come across collection the same way. I just ride?? Tough to explain, but I don't ever have light bulb moments.
The feel is almost literally like you have the whole horse in front of you, where you're riding the hindquarter and the horse's movements stem from your core and legs. The horse itself feels llike a spring.
I have no idea how to describe the feeling other than that.
I don't think you can describe a horse to be collected if you can do everything with ease. I can ride a poorly trained WP horse and they are one of the lightest horses to ride in the bridle, and can do things with the shift of your weight without a moment's hesitation. But it doesn't mean they're collected!
I do know what you mean, however--a collected horse who works off the hind end should be able to change it's direction, pace, and gait at any notice because it's balancing it's weight behind.
They have to feel--and sound--light. I think of it like a football player running through those tires on their toes. Catty and controlled. Collection to me is contained power--the energy doesn't go out but up, and it feels as though if I asked for a faster gait/speed the horse could instantly deliver with little to no effort.
They have to be relaxed with a swinging back. No swinging back = no correct collection!
When you truly feel the ribs expand and fill out your legs/seat then you are sitting on a collected horse. The lack of that feel (like a collapsed ballon) means you never really had it.
I remember sitting on my TB gelding and having a 'lightbulb moment'. He felt like riding a lazy boy couch--and he is NOT a big horse at all. T'was awesome. :)
sort of like cantering up a hill but theres no hill there. sort of.
For me it is like the balance point has changed so that the center of the fulcrum is me as the rider. If you take a 2x4 and put one end on a step then lift the other end you can feel the weight of the board. Now put the very center of the board on a thin step and lift one end. You can lift the board with no effort at all. That, to me, is the feeling I get on a collected horse.
A horse moving on his front (or rear) may respond quickly but you "feel" his weight. A collected horse will seem to have no weight, will feel round under my saddle, and move with me as the center - his energy coming not from the front or the rear, but equally from both. Lightness.
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