As a kid, I thought collection was about creating a pretty picture -- by keeping my horse's nose in. As many of you know, my horse, Mort was a head slinging, hard mouthed runaway. It made sense for the advice I heard the most to be, "Get that nose down!"
I didn't understand how collected he was without any help from me. His hind legs always were under him and his front end was loose and light. There's something about a horse who can jig for twenty miles and bolt into the wild blue yonder at the drop of a hat that creates a rounded frame.
My biggest breakthrough in understanding collection came when I realized this is not a man-made way of going. Horses collect all by themselves.
|Horses travel by choice by dragging themselves along with their front end, and letting their hind legs trail happily behind a hollowed out back.|
We humans realized a collected horse is a smother ride. It also benefits the horse by strengthening the back and easing the stress of lugging our lumpy selves by getting those hind legs to bear a portion of our weight.
Different disciplines have different ideas of what constitutes a collected frame.
Personally, I think this is what causes 90% of the clashes between English and Western riders.
|Western Reining Horse -- Collected|
|Western Horse -- not Collected|
|English - Dressage Horse -- Collected|
|English - Dressage Horse -- Not Collected|
|Western --Pleasure Horse -- Collected|
|Western-- Pleasure Horse -- not collected|