Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 62 - The Horse Forum
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post #611 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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From the dressage position, collection is a tucking under of the rear, a lifting of the withers, supposedly with a transfer of balance to the rear, with a vertical head. In a collected trot:
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"The Horse, remaining “on the bit”, moves forward with the neck raised and arched. The hocks, being well-engaged and flexed, must maintain an energetic impulsion, enabling the shoulders to move with greater mobility, thus demonstrating complete selfcarriage. Although the Horse’s steps are shorter than in the other trots, elasticity and cadence are not lessened." - Rules of Dressage
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"When riding the horse long and low, the back came up, the bow from hindquarters to mouth was put in tension, the entire muscle chain was stretched. There is no difference when collecting the horse, except the stretch is now directed upward instead of forward. This elevation against gravity, without getting tight in the process, requires a great deal of basic tension (and requires the horse to be closed in between the driving reins and restraining aids). The "rubber band" may never lose its arching oscillations. Especially during collection, the oscillations become rather pronounced, and the horse's back moves increasingly up and down as the horses steps and strides become loftier and more cadenced. This of course requires that the horse is well contained between the pushing aids and restraining aids, because this relatively high basic tension with is necessary for collection can only be obtained in this way...Prolonged collecting work is very strenuous for the horse." - Balance in Movement, The Seat of the Rider by Susanne von Dietze, page 120
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There is a long and bitter discussion of rounding the back here:

https://www.horseforum.com/horse-ridi...-round-674346/

My own take is much like Reiningcatsanddogs, I think: A horse who self-collects because he knows he can and wants to is a pleasure and it is good exercise. A horse who has collection taught to him - unless taught by a sensitive and expert rider - doesn't truly collect anyways. What Susanne von Dietze describes, accurately for many horses, is not beautiful:
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"This of course requires that the horse is well contained between the pushing aids and restraining aids, because this relatively high basic tension which is necessary for collection can only be obtained in this way...Prolonged collecting work is very strenuous for the horse."
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Unless one has the needed skill, tact and understanding, you get what is written above - a horse trapped between the "pushing aids" and "restraining aids" - which is why old texts showed a horse learning by restraining its forward movement by tying it to two posts while someone used a whip in the rear.

Thus Gen Chamberlin's comment: "For the most part, a high state of collection is totally unnecessary, and except with the most finished rider is the proverbial razor in the hands of a monkey."

However, even a simplistic rider like myself can easily work on encouraging self-collection. A horse trotting up a 10 deg hill automatically shifts it balance to the rear, from 57:43 to 50:50. A horse trying to turn without leaning - and leaning is a normal and acceptable way for a horse to turn - will shorten its strides and shift its balance on its own. A horse who transitions between gaits will often realize it does so easiest if it rebalances and momentarily collects.

Bandit gets hill work, just because there is almost no level terrain where I live. Transitions can be done while going down a trail. Since we often have smooth ground for 100 yards, then rocks sticking out for 30 yards, then smooth for 50 yards, then a sharp turn, etc - it is easy to ask for a trot or (if I trust him and anyone with me doesn't object) a canter, knowing that we will need to be walking in 100 yards to preserve his hooves.

All of this only teaches a modest degree of collection, and it has nothing to do with putting a horse "on the bit". VS Littauer was my first "instructor", and my favorite writer, but I've completely parted ways with him here. He said loose reins were for a beginning rider, constant contact marked an intermediate rider, and putting a horse on the bit marked an expert rider. I think every horse should learn to deal with near constant contact for short periods, for those times when things are tight and you need to be very directive. But I also think relying on constant contact indicates a poorly trained horse.

There, I said it. I might survive writing that on a journal page, but it would cause a meltdown anywhere else. I think relying on constant contact indicates a poorly trained horse. I think this is the primary difference between a western approach and an English one - although many "western" arena sports use intimidation instead of constant contact, which is even worse.

But if you accept that the horse has a mind, and that a horse likes to show off its powers, that they are social beings who love variety and amusement, and thrill to having a human team mate, then I do not understand how constant contact and worse, putting a horse on the bit, is higher riding. To me it is lower riding.

I accept, as Littauer did, that a tight show jumping course requires the rider control almost every step and movement. No horse, on its own, can understand a modern show jumping course and perform it to the maximum. But then, Littauer also considered a modern show jumping contest to be as much a circus trick as dressage became:
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"But then there occurred in riding what has often happened before in other human activities - man's ambition to attain the barely attainable took over jumping; it forced many international horsemen to drop Caprilli's method and to search for other, more forcible means of making horses negotiate almost impossible combinations of obstacles. Today many of these horsemen will rightly tell you that Caprilli's basic tenet, that "there is little in common between ring riding and cross-country riding" could be altered to - "there is little in common between cross-country riding and international show jumping.' Show jumping has become a narrow specialty...Artificial jumping problems, and the corresponding artificial means of solving them, have placed such jumping just around the corner from the tanbark of the circus. Just as in former days our ancestors admired the particularly artificial feats of High School, so today many of us enjoy a new type of circus - unnaturally high obstacles assembled in tricky combinations..."
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What the Cavalry taught, and Littauer strongly preferred, was that you taught the horse to jump, and then got out of his way. I would say you teach a horse to negotiate a trail, then get out of his way. You teach a horse to turn smoothly, then get out of his way. You teach a horse to transition gaits. And Bandit showed yesterday even he and I can transition from standing to cantering with little more than a thought - IF THE HORSE WANTS TO!

You present the horse with increasing challenges. The horse learns how to handle them. The rider gets out of the way of the horse, so the horse can handle the challenge for the rider, which makes the horse feel proud of himself.

That approach would never win a dressage competition, a reining competition, a WP show or a jumping competition. But to me, winning competitions has nothing to do with horsemanship. Maybe equitation, but not horsemanship.

And since many "for fun" riders are no better than I am, we should accept our status as "5 Ingredient Riders" and set goals within our grasp, ones we can reach without overwhelming the horse and without ignoring his mind.

< / rant >

This is one of the few dressage riders and horses I enjoy watching. I think she is brilliant. So is the horse. For the most part, I really enjoy watching them. But this canter has nothing to do with how I want my horse to canter, and I honestly cannot understand why anyone would admire it. This is an amazing rider and an amazing horse, doing something utterly worthless - in a record breaking performance:



Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 11-08-2016 at 11:04 AM.
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post #612 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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Another Littauer quote, just because I can and because I find his views on a forward seat instructive:

""Seunig also fails to recognize the fact that the Forward Seat and the Dressage Seat (he calls the latter the Normal Seat) have little in common, because the balance of the first is primarily based in the stirrups and that of the latter in the saddle. Obviously not realizing this, he believes that the 'forward seat is developed organically from the normal seat'. He also believes that it is impossible to maintain the Forward Seat "by balance alone" - which is precisely what beginners learning the Forward Seat are required to do by many American riding teachers. The Germans, who have apparently never discovered how easy this is when properly taught, make a strong point of the fixed knee, and teach that the rider should raise himself above the saddle not from the stirrups but "from the knees". Although I know a few excellent riders who ride with pinched knees, such a seat used by the majority would be quite disastrous, both from the view of security and that of softness." - The Development of Modern Riding, VS Littauer

$0.01 plus shipping from Amazon, and a great read on dressage, its origin, how the forward seat developed and why he believes folks now do it wrong...from someone in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame.

He includes long quotes from old texts, such as the English rider who recommended you get a horse to go forward by having your footman tie an "angry cat" to the end of a long pole, and lowering on the horse's backside anytime the horse balked. He also discusses, near the end of his life, some unusual ideas on training. For example, he sees little value in teaching the shoulder-in, likes having a green horse canter on the wrong lead, and says no stirrup work does more harm than good.
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Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"

Last edited by bsms; 11-08-2016 at 11:29 AM.
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post #613 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 11:25 AM
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This is a picture from Oliver at a jog, maybe a month under saddle, first ride with a bit.



My trainer is riding him, which is how there is a picture! (no one with a camera is ever around to take pictures of me riding and I never think to ask). His rear is somewhat reaching under but, his head is still higher than what would be natural for him when not under saddle and I know he reaches even more underneath now. You can see that he is fighting against my trainer's hands.

Initially, my trainer/friend was telling me to ask him to lower his head. Being me and sassy as I am, I told him that I preferred to see if Oliver would find it on his own (Oh the trials and tribulations of teaching adult experienced riders!).

It goes back to the whole concept that I hold to of “Manana” and that the horse is always right (does what best benefits him).

If he isn’t collecting naturally, then I’m not creating the proper conditions for him to go there. He’s not wrong and in need of correction, I am.

Instead of artificially asking/creating a position, we rode, waited and rode some more. My hands and legs got quieter, my seat got more solid, we got to know how each of us moves and became more comfortable together. He began to relax. Looking back at that picture, he was still very tense.

Then, like magic, one day, a few months later, there it was, and the difference in feel was night and day. He found it and now when we go he is in what western riders call “self-carriage”. I had gotten out of his way.

Somehow the concept of “collection” and “self-carriage” have become interchangeable; they didn’t used to be at least from my experiences years ago and my brief encounter one summer years ago, riding English on the East Coast.

In perusing articles that might be useful on this thread I found myself “Pffff-ing” at some of the titles such as “Teaching self-carriage”; mostly written in the English riding perspective.

I’m sorry if anyone finds this insulting it is meant as an observation, while “self-carriage” and “collection” might be referring to similar positions in the horse, the underlying concepts of how you obtain each are somewhat different.

The whole concept of self-carriage, at least the way I was initially taught years ago in western, is that it is a natural (as in not taught) balanced, highly efficient (meaning it makes the horse less tired and not something that is only maintained temporarily) comfortable, proper way of movement for the horse.

They seek it not because we ask but, because it benefits them when the rider is quiet and balanced. If they are not finding it on their own then IMO, there could be several reasons for that from expecting an artificial position that conflicts with conformation, to rider position, to health or tack issues.

IME one does not “teach” self-carriage, the rider gets out of the horse’s way with a secure seat and quietness and allows it to happen!

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer



Last edited by Reiningcatsanddogs; 11-08-2016 at 11:37 AM.
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post #614 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 11:37 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reiningcatsanddogs View Post
...It goes back to the whole concept that I hold to of “Manana” and that the horse is always right (does what best benefits him).

If he isn’t collecting naturally, then I’m not creating the proper conditions for him to go there. He’s not wrong and in need of correction, I am...

...They seek it not because we ask but, because it benefits them when the rider is quiet and balanced....

IME one does not “teach” self-carriage, the rider gets out of the horse’s way with a secure seat and quietness and allows it to happen!
"If he isn’t collecting naturally, then I’m not creating the proper conditions for him to go there. He’s not wrong and in need of correction, I am..."

Of course, my problem is that I am often interfering, or failing to create the proper conditions. But the answer is found in fixing me, to the extent I can be fixed. Fixing ME will be a life-long journey. Bandit and I both have physical issues, but I cannot help him without first fixing me. Only then can I allow him to get better. I'm the roadblock!
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post #615 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 11:53 AM
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Sometimes though, getting caught up in all of the mental details of equitation are as much of a roadblock as anything. Supposedly, what is considered correct equitation evolved from the way to best move with the horse. Therefore, assuming that is a correct assumption, it would be a function of logic that by moving correctly with your horse, you will attain correct equitation.

My logic is why not start there, move with your horse through feel and feel alone. Forget the should and ride through feel. If you are listening, they will tell you if you are succeeding or failing by whether or not they move freely and relaxed and naturally.

“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer


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post #616 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 12:53 PM
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@Reiningcatsanddogs

Much of what you are saying is right in line with what I managed to understand reading some of Jean-Luc Cornille's articles last night. Forget what they taught you, ride by feel, get out of the horse's way.

Thinking back on the few lessons I had with my latest trainer, I realize that much of what she was trying to teach me also falls in line with this.

My thinking after years of different trainers and methods: "Do this, do that, fix it, fix it, fix it!" This resulted in me having 'busy hands' and 'disco dancing' in the saddle, as my trainer called it. One time she yelled at me 'stop disco dancing! She's perfect when you sit still!" Shan responded so well to me just getting out of her way. Then we had to solve the 'leaning on the bit' problem. In reality I think we both leaned on each other, and I can't wait to get back and start riding again, get out of Shan's way, and not be something that she leans on!
(I miss my horse and riding so much! Currently out of state, going back in December XD oh well, lots of time to read horse stuff and think about it)

There was one time out on a trail ride that I think we had some kind of self-carriage. We started going up a hill, Shan wanted to rush up. I said no, please walk. Going uphill, with the light contact I had, it was not possible for her to lean into my hands. As a result I felt that powerful rush of energy and movement coming up to 'meet the bit' as some dressage riders might say. It truly was an incredible feeling.

My goal when I do get back will be to work (bad term, more like work less so as to get out of her way) on helping her produce impulsion and self-carriage. This will entail more sitting still, quiet hands, decently long rein, no leaning on the bit, but also not letting her drag her head and hooves on the ground doing that old horse grandma walk lol.

I remember a long while back @gottatrot posted a thread about how the position of the horse's head has nothing to do with collection, or something like that. At first, I was on the bandwagon with everyone else, defending collection and long and low and all things dressage holy. I had just come across some 'traditional' dressage techniques and discovered long and low, and since they seemed to be working for me and my horse I defended it. Then one of our lovely people on the dressage bandwagon posted that "horses do round their backs, they proved it in a study on cats." Kid you not. Totally serious, that is what they said. I don't remember who it was but I wish that I could thank them for showing me the door off that bandwagon. I certainly do not want to be part of a group of people that thinks a study on cats proves anything about a horse.

Honestly, I think riding shouldn't be as hard as everyone makes it. Its really not. The happiest times I've had on a horse was when I was riding by feel. I think its time I get back to that.
@bsms

I also do not understand the whole knee pinching and heavy hands thing either. Not only did I find trying to post with my knees uncomfortable, it was also counterproductive. I had one dressage trainer who taught heavy hands. Shan hated it and we didn't stay with her for too long.

"You can do something wrong for thirty years and call yourself experienced, you can do something right for a week and experience more than someone who spent thirty years doing the wrong thing." ~WhattaTroublemaker
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post #617 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 01:50 PM
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the horse cannot always 'find' these things on there own. not when they have a history of some kind of riding against which they have built a mental defense system. they are mentally all about finding that position that protects them the best, or doing the action that most kept them out of trouble in the past.

these horses may need to have some work with the bit that can look somewhat forcefull, becasue you have to do what it takes to show them another way. and, you have to let them figure it out, otherwise they dont' really learn.

so, you have to put them in a bit of a bind, say, for a hrose that has a habit of bracing, you take up just enough contact that he goes into his bracing reaction, but you stay with him . you don't allow that behavior to ever work for him, but you dont' force him to change. he will have to figure out how to get himself out of that bind.

eventually, he realizes that there IS an easier way, and the bracing life that he's carried for years, and has made him feel miserable about being ridden, is not necessary.

It required more than just getting out of his way, though.

yesterday I rode my friends horse. this horse has some kind of issue in her hind that makes cantering under saddle hard. she crow hop/canters. I had no intention of cantering her, (I'd surely fall off), but when I was working her, and asking for her to trot, she would speed off, through up her head, and start to pin her ears and even 'think' about reaching around to bit my foot. at first I thought it was becasue she felt I was putting on mtoo much leg. but, later, after a bit, I realizedx she was worried I was going to ask her to canter.

so, I just shushed her verbally gave a little tiny upward snap of the rein (to address the bad stink eye expression), gave my inside hand forward, so she could see my indicating to let go of that backward thought and go forward, and kept posting. after about 4 times of this, she started to accept having a looser rein, and not worry about the canter. it wasn't great, but I interrrupted her assumption of trouble and all ended well.
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post #618 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Harry Chamberlin argued that horses need gymnastic training to develop as an athlete. It is a fundamental difference between Chamberlin / Littauer and largely the English approach to riding, and the western style I think works better.

Bracing? Bandit would brace his back and create tension in his neck. My response was to remember what my Mom told me - it takes two to fight. A horse cannot brace against what is not there.

Could someone like Chamberlin or Littauer or any top rider get better results faster? Probably. But if the horse is bracing, what is he bracing against?

The theory of dressage is the rider holds the horse together - a phrase I've actually seen - until the horse feels good about being held together and then starts to hold himself together. That may well work in the hands of a genius, but almost no recreational rider will pull it off. I sure as heck cannot, nor do I see any reason to try.

That doesn't mean a horse never needs to push past his comfort zone. The question, I think, is this: Does the rider control the horse until the horse figures the new balance or motion out, or does the rider give the horse increasing challenges that require the horse to push beyond what he already knows?

I don't think one rider in 100 knows enough about how a horse SHOULD move to even think about improving his movement by taking control. But anyone can gradually increase the difficulty of what one asks, and let the horse figure out the movement.

The following is a long quote, but a good one:
-------------------------------------------------------------

I firmly believe that so long as the horse is not a soulless machine, so long as he enjoys mental faculties permitting him to receive impressions in all parts of his being more quickly than we can apply the aids deduced from our calculations, his training by the hard and fast rules of mathematics will ever remain the idle dream of a Utopian.

I am convinced that the main requisites of training are: to observe the horse at liberty, to reflect, and to strive to perfect one's self rather than to blame the horse's unwillingness or imperfections...

...To observe and to reflect, these are the rider's surest means of success.

Unfortunately for him, we all to often blame the horse, and generally wrongly...The fault is nearly always with the rider...

The rider must reduce his actions to the very minimum and leave the horse the greatest possible freedom in his.

To be understood readily and quickly by the horse, the language of the aids must be the simplest, but in scientific theories it is rarely so, and the lessons are as difficult to give as to take. Training thus becomes as boring to the rider as to the horse...

It is calmness, and nothing else, that converts disordered jerky gaits into smooth, flowing ones. Here is a very important phase of training in which there must be no struggle. A teacher must first get the confidence of his pupil, and then reveal the presence of kindness, gentleness and a will, that though calm, is inflexible. This is the immutable and sovereign law of teaching, whether the pupil is man or beast.

To others more skillful, I leave the doctrine of violence. I have not the strength to practice it even if I wished...A spoiled horse, made stubborn by harsh treatment, sometimes has a bad disposition - an unbroken horse, never...

...Everyone who has watched horses move in open country at liberty, or under riders making no effort to balance them, or even when used as pack animals, is amazed at their cleverness and skill. A horse ridden in a halter or with nothing at all on his head is always straight and his gaits are regular. Usually it is otherwise when the rider attempts to guide of balance him....

...The truth is that skill may rectify gaits which have been spoiled by man and become habitual with a horse controlled by the rider's aids; but it was obedience to these aids that ruined the gaits...

...the horse carries our weight [the rider's] and his own, which, together change the balance and the horse therefor instinctively feels, much more accurately than we do, HOW and WHEN the formula should be modified. That is why the horse must be left free to dispose his forces (strength) as he sees fit, so as to obtain the results that we are seeking.

Horse Training Outdoors and High School
by Etienne Beudant (1931)
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post #619 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
the horse cannot always 'find' these things on there own. not when they have a history of some kind of riding against which they have built a mental defense system. they are mentally all about finding that position that protects them the best, or doing the action that most kept them out of trouble in the past.
Let me clarify. I wasn’t assuming a horse with other issues that need work prior to working on collection. I am assuming a horse that rides nicely and is already open to learning; no major hang ups.
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post #620 of 2053 Old 11-08-2016, 08:05 PM
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Quote:
(@Bsms)He said loose reins were for a beginning rider, constant contact marked an intermediate rider, and putting a horse on the bit marked an expert rider. I think every horse should learn to deal with near constant contact for short periods, for those times when things are tight and you need to be very directive. But I also think relying on constant contact indicates a poorly trained horse.
So many good thoughts in these posts.

Honestly, I don't care for the term collection anymore. What I'd like to strive for is a horse that has self balance or independent balance. This requires the nearly endless (with some horses) struggle of discovering how to get out of the horse's way so they can learn to use their own athletic ability and balance. This can be so much more difficult for some horses than others.

I'd say some horses are naturally very athletic but have a difficult balance point with a rider, so it takes a lot of skill to allow the horse to be so athletic and still stay out of their way. So sometimes horses that need more frequent contact (I agree that constant contact is a training problem) are not as naturally balanced and need some assistance from the rider. Hopefully they can attain more balance as they work on developing their bodies.

From what I've found, the most independently balanced horses are the ones that can be ridden on the most loose rein. Of course most horses are ridden on a loose rein at the walk, but you can see as the horse and rider pick up speed and transition through gaits, if the independent balance is not there things fall apart on a loose rein.

In general, a horse that can be very athletic on a loose rein is a very balanced horse. But some unskilled riders have very balanced horses, and stay out of the way just enough. But the horses could do far more athletic things with a good rider.

I agree some horses have a mental defense, and often these can come from the horse having a difficult time due to physical issues or a rider that does not compensate for balance issues. It is amazing to me how quickly a horse will accept a better way of going as the problems are fixed.

I am wondering if what happens in disciplines that require constant contact is that the rider creates a balance problem for the horse which requires assistance from the rider. The so called ring of muscles and feeling that the motion is going back and forth between the rider and the horse is the horse's body falling out of position and the rider using the leverage of the reins to help the horse stop falling and use his muscles to stay in position.

A few horses can learn how to achieve that desired position by balancing on their own, over time and are praised for having self carriage. More horses only develop taut muscles and joint problems by trying to find positions they are unable to sustain due to their skeletal balance with a rider.

What I often come back to is that true collection seen naturally is a state that is brought on by excitement or fear and does not last for long. Throw a new horse in a herd of Arabs and you'll see them bouncing all over the place with their necks arched over. It requires a lot of muscle strength and excitement and lasts very briefly. Physical balance is different and is something horses can sustain for long periods of time and will only help their bodies and never harm them.
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