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manca 05-28-2011 03:51 PM

Why is collecting a horse so hard :(
I've been thaught that to collect a horse means to get his head on the bit. I've been taught to do this with much pressure on horses mouth. So when I get my own horse I didn't do it. That's been for 3 years...

Some time ago I was riding up the hill and I was actually holding reins in my hands because she was a bit 'ful of energy' that day. I wasn't pulling or anything, just holding the reins, I'm used to having them long all the time. A car drove behind us and I wanted to go a little bit faster so we could move off the road. My mare collected herself, it was a different feeling, riding her, like she put her back up and she dropped her head a bit, but still not as much as my extrainer always wanted.
Then I was injured and couldn't ride for 3 weeks. I did research on the net and found out collecting a horse isn't only being on the bit.

I tried to collect her today again, on that hill, but succed only once from 4 times (I went up and down, up and down, lol). I'll keep trying. She doesn't have any muscles on her topline and I want them.

Any advice?

Spyder 05-28-2011 03:59 PM


Originally Posted by manca (Post 1049128)
I've been thaught that to collect a horse means to get his head on the bit. I've been taught to do this with much pressure on horses mouth. So when I get my own horse I didn't do it. That's been for 3 years...


All you are doing is getting the head into a certain position. There is nothing to connect that to anything related to collection.

manca 05-28-2011 04:06 PM

I have a feeling you should read again :P

See I said:

So when I get my own horse I didn't do it.

I did research on the net and found out collecting a horse isn't only being on the bit.

Lonannuniel 05-28-2011 04:59 PM

I am still learning about collection personally, so this is partially a 'subbing' comment, but anyway...

go slowly. these muscles are built up over time, and too much stress too quickly can cause terrible results ( personal experience on that one * covers face in embarrassment* )

^-^ there's my small bit of advice, can't wait to see what others suggest!

amymarie57 05-28-2011 05:11 PM

I'm having a tough time with it too. My trainer has me doing a ton of circles and it's the greatest feeling when I know he's collected but I can't maintain it for long and I lose all connection when I transition :shock:. When I lease this summer I'll have more time to dedicate to it. Sorry I have little advice/experience but I know that circles can help :-)

JustDressageIt 05-28-2011 05:22 PM

Collection has nothing to do with where the horse's head is - it's all about the horse carrying itself properly - and that is HARD! If you're sitting in a chair right now - are you sitting up straight with your shoulders back? No? Correct it - it's hard to hold over a period of time - and you're sitting!
It takes a lot of muscle memory, and a lot of work - that's why it's so hard :)
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MIEventer 05-28-2011 05:28 PM

Seat Into Legs Into Hands To Soften. You must ride the back end, to get the front end. It's like a domino effect, you cannot have the last Domino fall, until the first starts the chain reaction.

Inside leg into outside rein. When I rode with Beitre Herbert Siebel *sorry for the incorrect spelling* when he came to my neck of the woods to host a clinic, whom is from the Spanish Riding School - I learnt that your seat rides the back end, your legs ride the ribs and your hands ride the shoulders.

Your seat is there to engage that back end. To activate it, to get it moving. Your legs are there to lift the ribs/spine up into your seat, and your hands are there to not only allow that energy you've created to recycle back through, but also to keep the shoulders under your horse itself, for balance.

Your seat must be there to work with your legs, your legs must be there to work with your seat, your seat and legs are there to work with your hands, and without your hands all that energy you've created will be lost.

I suggest you start taking up Dressage Lessons. Or finding clinics in your area so you can sign up to take a session in dressage under an Upper Level Rider to help and guide you on the correct path.

All your horses body parts must be working in unison, to gain the desired effect. True Collection takes a long time to achieve.

Allison Finch 05-28-2011 05:32 PM

You see, before a horse can collect, he must be moving properly. He must be able to move FORWARD and carry himself well before he can start to collect.

You are riding your horse from the head with your hands with no knowledge of what his haunch is doing. You must concentrate on what the rear end is doing and kinda forget about what the front is doing, for now. When he engages his haunch and starts to move forward into the bridle and meets a steady supportive hand, he can start learning to carry himself in that "frame" you are looking for. The "head set" is the end result of everything else working properly.

Your instructor has little real knowledge of dressage if she is telling you to haul in on the reins without using your legs first. I would suggest finding a more knowledgeable instructor before you damage your horse's love of contact with you.

MIEventer 05-28-2011 05:45 PM

Great post Allison!

hflmusicislife 05-28-2011 05:54 PM

^^ You two did an awesome job explaining it!
I've started up dressage lessons, and she's been helping me get my mare to move correctly. She told me to get her collected, I need to squeeze to keep the impulsion in her hind end, but also keep contact with her mouth. In other words, pulling back is going to do nothing to her back end; that comes from your seat and legs, NOT your hands.

Getting your horse to move properly doesn't just happen over night though. Unfortunately it takes more than just a few rides to get a horse to move beautifully.

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