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Alrighty. I ride western, but want to learn how to teach a horse to come onto the bit. Chopper is now rising 4, and I would like to teach him to collect himself and come onto the bit. He knows his basics, w/t/c, stop, back, steering. I have never taught a horse to do this, and was wondering what the easiest way to do this is? I have zero access to a trainer, aside from myself. I also have no access to a round pen, only a lunge line and a small-ish arena. If somebody could explain to me how to work on this in basically lame-mens terms I would really appreciate it. :)
 

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Ironically, to get your horse on the bit, you need to forget about everything from the neck forward in the initial steps. Your basic young horse who can W/T/C is operating the way he was built. The front legs carry the weight, the hind legs propel the horse. When you ask for collection, you're changing the way the horse uses his body and asking him to use his hind legs to bear weight as well as propel the horse. To do this, you have to train him with exercises that result in weight being transferred from his front legs to his rear legs. The most basic way to start doing this is to use transitions both between gaits and within gaits. Walk-trot-walk tends to be the most effective for starting out. The key is that you as the rider, needs to be capable of understanding how the horse if moving beneath you. With each transition up and down, you should be able to feel your horse working more from behind. If you just do what I call "empty transitions" very little will be accomplished.

I'm already getting wordy, so I'll stop there for now. Beyond basic transitions, there are many more exercises involving circles, serpentines, and lateral work that will get more weight transferred to your horse's hind end, but I'll see if all the crap I wrote in the first paragraph helps first.
 

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Jane, This is wonderful , I have been a fan of yours for some time. I watch the you tube videos a lot that you have to offer. I have a mustang gelding who I often thought would make a wonderful dressage horse. I am sorry that this is off the topic...I also wanted to welcome you as well : )
 

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Thanks, Guys!

I should also say that one of the prerequisites to putting your horse on the bit is that you offer him an inviting, elastic contact. Here's part of a video that I did last week on learning the feeling of an elastic contact.

 

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Oh YAY!
Welcome to the Horse Forum Jane. It is great to have you here. I am always watching your video's!
Very nice to have you here!
Halfpass
 

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Thanks guys, he has begun reaching for the contact without much assistance from me. I only get a few strides, but each time he holds it longer.
 
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