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SonnyWimps 03-29-2008 10:25 PM

collection again
gosh I think I'm starting to hate this topic haha

I can get Sonny to have the nice curved headset, and in the right position, but it's the rounding of the back that I can't get. I can't seem to do it on any of the horses, neither Sonny nor the lesson horses. His back still appears to be hallow.

How can I get Sonny to round his back and move his hind quarters more? I know it will take time, but as of now I'm stuck on how to do it.

Also another question, I've always been told that collection will cause a horse to naturally curve his head under and have a good headset...but looking at western horses, obviously they don't have their heads where say a dressage horse would have theirs.
Are those western horses still collected?

For example
^^She looks rounded in the back, but no head set...but when I asked on another forum, and they said that with collection comes the curved head
But not on this dressage horse, he has the head set, but not the rounded back.

I'm so confused! Most dressage horses I see have the curved head/neck, but not the rounded back...where as with western horses it's the opposite...the back is rounded, but no headset.[/list]

tim 03-29-2008 11:11 PM

Well having a rounded back and deep hocks is often just a trait of the horse. It can take months of intensive riding to get a horse to properly lift it's back that otherwise wouldn't do it. My horse is an example of this. And after you get it rounding it's back, you have to constantly maintain it.

I wouldn't worry about all that crap about collection and headset and rouding. It's more about movement, and what comes naturally to your horse.

This is the only way to really visualize it --

Here is what happens when a horse rounds it's back.
This would be why pleasure horses should have a rounder back. It improves the topline and gives them that suspended look which will allow them to move flatter and smoother.

This is the opposite.
As you can see, this is somewhat like what the dressage horse you posted is doing. It's head is in a position that requires a more hollow back. Also, the position of it's hind legs would suggest a more hollow back as well. Though, I wouldn't call this a problem. It's just that a hollow back serves the position of the dressage horse better than a rounded back would.

SonnyWimps 03-30-2008 10:15 AM

so then Sonny, if I stick with dressage, is correct when he has the headset, but not the rounded back?

Also, if I switch back to western riding, and do possibly competitive trails or some other western stuff, would I particually need the rounded back? How would I go about achieving the rounded back?

Well I've heard from many people, including my instructor and my best friend that having a horse not collected can cause a sway back in their older years...where as a horse that collects himself will have less of a sway back if any. I definately don't want Sonny to have a sway back (but then again what happens will happen) I thought that dressage work might help with that.

Thanks for the input, Tim!!! The pictures helped explain alot also

Abby 03-30-2008 07:35 PM

.Delete. 03-31-2008 11:39 AM

In western is all your horse. If it carries itself or not.

AKPaintLover 03-31-2008 05:34 PM


Originally Posted by .Delete.
In western is all your horse. If it carries itself or not. must teach him to self carry and collect with very subtle cues. :)

SonnyWimps 03-31-2008 05:40 PM


Originally Posted by AKPaintLover

Originally Posted by .Delete.
In western is all your horse. If it carries itself or not. must teach him to self carry and collect with very subtle cues. :)

and how would I do that?

tim 03-31-2008 07:13 PM

In time, you will learn the ways of the force.

AKPaintLover 03-31-2008 07:15 PM

This is a quote of my response to your post in the critique section:


okay...I am wondering if your trainer is clear on all of the elements of collection? I am not the best to explain it...I can feel it, see it, and slightly describe it, but there are others on here who might be able to give you a very clear explanation.

One of the things that I have learned is that when starting out in working toward collection...getting the head on vertical is NOT the major focus.

You really have to get the horse moving with steady/balanced impulsion (impulsion being basically focused and controlled drive, not just all out speed). Your horse should be driving from behind, his back should be slightly rounded, he should feel light and very maneuverable on the forehand, you should feel like you are riding just ever so slightly uphill.

Your horse does have to learn to be soft and supple on the bit to achieve this. One way to get his body into a collected frame is to (once he is soft on the bit) keep a light contact, or ride doing half halts, and while doing so use your legs and seat to drive his body forward. Imagine that you have faced him into a wall and then someone takes his bum and pushes the back legs/hips forward into a powerful position while shortening the overall length of the horse just a bit (varies depending on what you are doing). This would cause his back to round, and his front to become lighter. the front feet being lighter will help him be able to more quickly and accurately perform various maneuvers. Depending on your horse, your legs may have to work very hard to achieve the drive needed to create this... my horse has very low natural impulsion, so I am constantly driving with my seat and legs when I want performance with effort. Smile

when you have the body, you can then worry about finishing off the head. That is not to say that your horse should not take a steady soft contact willingly. You need him to accept your contact in order to drive his back end into it. Otherwise you will have a horse with a bent head whose body is sort of just running through the bit when drive is added. In the pictures, that is more of what appears to be going on.

sorry to sound like a broken record, but the serpentines video exercise I posted is great for softening to bit and for the horse learning balance, rhythm, and self carriage. When you put all of those together, you basically have a horse that is collected.

I learned it for the purposes of reining, but the premise behind it will carry over to any discipline. It is a John/Josh Lyons method that was taught to me, that I am just a big fan of.

Other good activities for working on collection are half halts, spirals, and circles (done correctly). Also, I think that hills and low jumps can be helpful because they strengthen the hind and give the horse and rider the feel for the horse working off the hind. Smile

Keep working at him - he will be fabulous at it in no time. Smile I knew of and wanted to achieve collection for a long time, but really could not put my finger on what it was until I was all of a sudden working my horse collected, when all of the pieces just sort of fit together. When I am not really working at it, my horse feels like his front feet are full of bricks during his stops, turns, and gaits. When I get everything working together though, it feels great. Smile

I hope my novel was helpful in some way for you.
There are many additional ways to work on collection, but I have to go at the moment. :) Others may have some great exercises for you too. :)

SonnyWimps 03-31-2008 07:34 PM

the problem with pushing Sonny on with my legs and seat is that he's REALLY sensitive about my cues. And any little thing will drive him faster. So I'm working on desensitizing him a little bit so he won't speed up into a canter when I don't want him to.

I do use half-halts to get him to keep his headset and to maintain a fairly good temp for his gaits

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