Collection vs natural horse movement - why would horses not choose collection? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 177 Old 03-10-2016, 08:50 PM
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this is the thread that was such a can of worms:
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post #12 of 177 Old 03-10-2016, 08:54 PM
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Whoa! That thread is dead. Now who is opening a can of worms...
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post #13 of 177 Old 03-10-2016, 09:32 PM
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I do not show, so only have a horse in a collected frame occasionally, when it serves a purpose.
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post #14 of 177 Old 03-11-2016, 12:33 AM
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Agree with what has been generally said
As stated, horses perform collected maneuvers all the time, at liberty, when it serves them a purpose.
They also do flying lead changes all the time, transitions etc.
We don't teach them to do any of the things above, but we do teach them to perform them on cue, when we ask for it. Same for collection.
There are times, in certain performance events, carrying a rider, where collection allows a horse to use himself efficiently, able to respond to the rider's lightest cues, working with his hind end engaged, and shoulders up
There are also times you just want to cover ground, as in riding out on a trail, racing etc, and then the horse just moves 'natural', as that is the most efficient way to cover ground, negotiate a challenging trail, ect
Some horses never need to learn to move collected, esp if they are just ridden recreationally.
On the other hand, if you show a horse, and he only can move strung out, you are not going to be able to ride tight patterns, ect
All horses taught collection, can also move natural, but horses that just can move natural, can't move collected, while ridden, unless trained to do so.
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post #15 of 177 Old 03-11-2016, 09:19 AM
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Actually, a horse who has not been trained to collect on cue can still move collected with a rider. It is just that the period of collection may be followed by a 180 turn and then a gallop.
"When the horse tries to move at high speed without allowing for the possibility of sudden stopping, the backward resistance is limited to the amount of energy needed to prevent the horse from falling forward and down, i.e., from tripping. But, if the horse, because of the possibility of some unforeseen event, mores fearfully or cautiously (i.e., when he takes into account the need for suddenly stopping or for preventing a fall), then his mind will literally be torn between the two contradictory necessities. Nowhere other than in the High School movement called the "passage" is the phenomenon of "inhibited thrust" more obvious: while the thrust of the hind legs remains powerful, it is counteracted by an equally powerful hesitancy. And it is this combination which makes all the charm of this movement...

...horses in the wilderness will assume a collected posture, characterized by a constant "coiling under" of the pelvis and a high head carriage...

...Collection is, therefor, a posture which, without hampering his forward movement, allows the horse, if necessary, to check it immediately. For this body attitude, the horse has to permanently brace muscles which otherwise would only be braced occasionally, namely only in those movements when a deceleration occurs." - Racinet
Also, there is a huge difference between "strung out" and natural, just as there is a difference between natural and collected. "Strung out" leaves a horse excessively heavy on the front end, more so than he would be without a rider. Mia did it when she would take too short of a stride with the front end for the power being developed with the rear, putting her center of gravity uncomfortably forward - to the point it felt like we might flip. Bandit tends to do it when he develops too little power with the rear for the size of the front stride, as in this picture:

That is a horse pulling himself forward with his front legs, and it is uncomfortable to ride and hard on the horse. It is somewhat natural - I've seen him do it riderless many times - but it is an inefficient motion, hard on the front and leaving the horse incapable of changing directions or speed smoothly.

What seems to be helping him is not trying to "collect him", but riding him out and trotting up hills, working on turns and transitioning between gaits. He can stop being "strung out" without ever learning "collection". They do not form an "either/or" choice.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #16 of 177 Old 03-11-2016, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by updownrider View Post
Whoa! That thread is dead. Now who is opening a can of worms...

Tiny made a completely fair point, there have been a few threads that have explored this concept recently, and they all got quiet lively, she did not say "don;t discuss it" was simply pointing out the previous history. I think it is a fair warning to those who may have missed previous discussions on the subject, who may wonder why their innocent question gets the response that it did....

For anyone who is interested, my coach linked this fro me today, it is a good read that kind of touches on the subject

Talking Dressage with Carl Hester | The Horse Magazine – Australia's Leading Equestrian Magazine
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post #17 of 177 Old 03-11-2016, 01:23 PM
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Agree, has been discussed, and I don't think the Op really wants to hear that debate, but rather just a straight forward answer to the question
BSMS, again, if you read every word in my post, as to whether a horse can perform collected movements, on his own, or while ridden, note that the operative word, applying to when ridden, was ON CUE.
I did say that we don't teach collection, lead changes, lead departures, ect, but what we do teach when ridden, is for the horse to perform those maneuvers on cue, and not in activities such as trying to spin and bolt, or doing his own thing!
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post #18 of 177 Old 03-11-2016, 05:10 PM
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To answer the OP:
Moving in collection becomes very important when we RIDE a horse. It is best for the horse if they are always moving in at least a tiny bit of collection when we are on their backs in order to preserve the health of their own backs. If you can look at a drawing of a horse's spine and imagine what a weight on its back would do, then think about the horse pushing its spine up a bit with that weight.

You could do an experiment if you would get down on all 4s wearing a loaded backpack. Now let all your muscles relax and notice how it affects your back. Now use your abdominal muscles to lift your back slightly. Which would ensure long term back health?

My description is very basic, but hopefully will give you the idea. In order for a horse to move in collection they must be able to lower their backend while lifting the frontend. It is our job as riders to learn how to allow those two things to happen, while making sure the horse is moving straight. Collection is developed more and more throughout the training process.

Different breeds of horses tend towards different natural degrees of collection. Draft horses are bred to pull, so push forward into a harness. Warmbloods are bred for sport and really big powerful extended gaits. Whereas the Iberian breeds (Andalusians, Lipizzans, etc.) tend to be more naturally collected. Of course there are variations within the breeds due to our breeding for different traits.

Another thing to keep in mind is that as a horse grows, the spine matures very late in the process. So the longer one can wait before riding, the better your chances for ultimate collection will be.

Hope this helps.
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post #19 of 177 Old 03-11-2016, 11:03 PM
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"Now use your abdominal muscles to lift your back slightly. Which would ensure long term back health?"

Except this does not happen in horses. See the linked-to "controversial thread". To lift the front end, horses use their shoulder muscles and increase the peak impact on the front legs. Not the abdominal muscles, and it doesn't round the back. Those are myths.

To carry a heavier load, horses adapt by increasing how long their feet are on the ground and take shorter strides.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #20 of 177 Old 03-11-2016, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Horsef View Post
Why is collected movement better than what a horse does naturally? Surely they would move collected on their own if it's better/more efficient/more comfortable?

I know they collect in nature but not for any length of time. We try to get them moving like that much longer than they would choose to.
Your observations are very good, and a lot of this is what our recent discussions revolved around.

That reasoning "collected movement is better than what a horse does naturally" was something that I questioned for many years as well. It's true that certain disciplines such as dressage force a horse to collect their body for much longer than they would naturally. That is because collection is a type of muscle use in a horse that is not "better" but is simply one that some people desire so they can win competitions. They just have tried to sell to the rest of the world that it is necessary in order for a horse to carry a rider better or more easily, which opinion in my view was debunked in our recent thread.

Saying that collection is better for a horse than letting them carry a rider comfortably in their natural posture is like saying body building is better than long distance running. They are different uses for a body, and they build different types of muscles. Either one can be over done and cause injuries, and either one may create a strong body.

Horse spine anatomy is far different from a human's so testing how a weight feels on your own very flexible back is far different from how a horse feels carrying a rider with their very inflexible spine.

My guess is your question comes from wanting to do what is best for your horse, and my answer is that collection is not necessary and your horse can build strong back muscles for carrying a rider regardless of whether you make the horse collect or not.
But also be aware that there are a few different definitions for collection, some as vague as the horse being able to gather himself and follow commands, or to be able to perform gaits slowly. I'm referring to collection as a horse that is lowering the hind end and shortening the gaits while maintaining forward impulsion, with an arched neck.
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