Thursday, January 15, 2009


First-Ezra...How're things going? Let me know when you're getting the softened round feel both ways OK? Let me know if you're stuck too.

Second- Collection. Yikes. Let's all chime in on our interpretations of collection. What we look for, where we are with it, our personal definitions. Wanna? I'm hoping everybody will have something to say. Ask questions, make comments, learn the differences in how we approach things.Everybody promise not to get intimidated or defensive......

Horse of Course started everything a few days ago. I've added a few comments here and there, in green. She said...
Laura, thanks for your kind reply. Nice to hear.I have been thinking about what you wrote about collection. Your definition of collection is not the same as mine (as a dressage rider).So what do I mean?(Again, just my personal thoughts here)In the dressage world collection equals ability to engage the hind legs over time.When you start to ride a young horse, it’s rather on the forehand. Same for me. So you work to get a good, balanced working trot with a nice rhythm and contact, and you work to keep the balance in transitions and in change of directions. When this is coming on, you begin to work with the straightness in the horse. All horses are crooked, as well as us riders unfortunately.This is where I begin my straight line exercises. An example: most horses, when they canter/lope along the rail place the hind legs slightly to the inside. (Do you correct this in a western horse?)
I have seen WP horses dramatically driven with their hindquarters to the inside? outside? but they are extremely crooked, someone explain this to me....
So in this example we have to work to get the horse straight by placing the front of the horse slightly inwards from the rail.Why?In my world we believe that the hind legs are the motor of the horse (same for you?) so we always correct the front end in line with the motor. And we need full throttle on both propellers. If not, we will get irregularities in the gaits and problems to execute the movements later on. So the horse is to use both hind legs straight under, with equal force.The same “straightness” also is used to describe how the horse has to work correctly in corners and circles.
It should be in balance, with an even bend in the body that equals the circle, not leaning in, not putting the hind legs to the outside/inside, and not jack-knifing (falling out through the outer shoulder)This is a never ending job. (I believe that a good dressage rider should act like a physiotherapist to the horse :-) Away with stiffness, crookedness and work that body!) This is what we're working on Ezra!
Then you start to play with the impulsion and collection of the horse. The horse’s hind legs can either carry or push.In a TB race horse as an example, you have long, low, ground covering strides with a great ability to push. Cowhorses are supposed to move long and low, with lots of push.
A well educated dressage horse has a great ability to carry. All horses are constructed differently, and have more or less natural talent for what we call collection – but really it’s a question about building strength, over years.I’ll try a simplified explanation: what you do in the start is to put energy into the horse (back to the leg-discussion :-)) but when your horse answers with increased speed (which they do in the beginning) you balance it up with a soft closing of seat and hand, a half-halt, and ask it to bring the legs under instead. When the horse then happily turns off the engine instead (which they are likely to do in the beginning) you again ask for more energy and concentrate to keep the same rhythm.What we aim for is for the horse to be able to lengthen and shorten(collect) the stride keeping the same rhythm, keeping balance, keeping the outline and with a soft contact in the hand. Increased collection is actually increased ability to carry. The more you train, the stronger the horse gets. And with correct work, the ability to collect increases.
We don't want the lift you guys work towards, the high knee and hock action would interfere with our work, part of why our horses look heavy in the front to you, trust me, the good ones are not!
But it’s a long, difficult road, both for the horse and the rider.When a horse collects you can see that the moment of suspension gets longer, more ”air under the stomach”, the hind legs bend more in the hocks to get the legs more under the body, and the front of the horse elevates.I believe it is easiest to illustrate increasing degrees of collection with the different dressage movements in trot:Working trot – collected trot – passage – piaffe.Passage is what the dressage horse in the you-tube video executes when they come into the arena.Piaffe is when the horse “trots on the same spot”.I believe you all have been sitting on a horse when it sees something spooky? And felt the horse grow under you? Suddenly it’s two sizes larger than it was just a second ago.This is in a way the feeling you get when you sit on an educated dressage horse.It kind of turns your average Ford into a Ferrari. I love it. it, how we've been taught.


  1. Good post, I enjoyed reading it, and I can't wait to see the responses. Don't really have anything to add about Collection...

    Kasey @

  2. C'mon Ginger-Give it up. How do you collect your horse?

  3. I loved reading this and that would be my definition of collection. It's something I can identify but not explain. I think Horse of Course did a good job explaining what I see and feel.

    I am learning about the Western world, so I can't really comment. However, I'd love to hear more of your definition, Mugs. Why long and low? Why do they appear heavy on the front? What's the purpose?

  4. What a beautifully written description of collection! Thank you. Mug's comments make it easier to see similarities between disciplines that seem very different at first glance.
    I'm now mainly a dressage rider, but have ridden H/J and evented a little. I worked towards "collection" in each discipline. My writing skills aren't good enough to compare and contrast the different versions; mostly the words and terms were different and the riding was the same. Same lesson to the horse, working to get his balance from front to back so that he could most easily carry the rider and perform the task at hand. The good riders in each discipline ended up being more similar to each other than not.

    Similarities? All started with going forward. All used changing figures (circles, 8s, serpentines) to get the horse traveling straight along the line of travel, whether a straight or bending line. All asked the horse to go faster and slower within a gait.
    Then in hunters, you started working over fences and did the same exercises in between small jumping efforts. Having the jumps helped encourage the horse to listen to your half-halts and "rock back" (=collect). Your contact was whisper-light, but steady. Everything was about moving from the hindquarters, on the flat or over jumps. My hunters were pretty darn broke.

    Dressage is similar to begin, but now I'm aiming for a higher level of collection. Everything is the same, except more. More contact, more engagement, more lift, more....fascinating. Guess I like analyzing every aspect of my riding.

  5. I ride western, boarded with a dressage trainer - he didn't speak very good english and we used to talk about collection. We would argue for hours (about everything really) -and end up realizing that we were saying the same thing.

    I have felt the "lift" in my western horse when you are going straight and you push them into the bridle and they round and lift their back driving off the hind end carrying themselves more elevated. It is pretty cool. But I will leave the training of those things to the professionals. :)

  6. mugwump, I gave my definition of collection. Its what Horseofcourse was replying to. So I think it would be a little redundant to give it again.

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  8. When they ride those WP horses crooked at the lope it's called "putting a hook on them". It's a shortcut training trick to get them to slow down their lope, but it usually leads to fourbeating or at the very least a really mechanical gait. I've even seen some HUS horses doing it.


    This is what I think about when you talk about collection and extension.

  10. I agree with what you have writen in your post about collection. I have a hard time explaining collection to others. This is really a 'feel' one for me. Perfect example tonight at the arena. My partners three year old is progressing nicely and I was riding him. He is very good at flexing and rounding giving the impression of collection. He is however still 'hard' in the face and crooked on long strechs at the lope. One of the other riders in the arena was telling me how nicely my horse collected and that I just had to get off his face. Smile/Grin. I had a hard time explaining....the hard face round look. Does any of this make sense?

  11. there is the "collection" that so many people think they have in the New Zealand pony club, low level horse trials and even when getting into higher levels of competition. All it is is a "pretty" top line. A bend is in the horses neck and so it looks pretty infront of the saddle.

    True collection/working - for me - is when the hindquarters are pushing up from behind, under the saddle. At the trot the hind feet will overlap the prints of the front. It is what i find unusual about a lot of what I have seen of western trotting - the hind hooves are not coming underneath the horse.

    How did I get collection - first I got the horse moving forward and comfortable with light contact, then I ask for pretty much the same as the original post was asking for.

    I haven't trained in dressage enough to get the pure jaw dropping collection more than for a few fleeting strides on a really good day - however I was able to ride a medium dressage horse a few times - he justabout pinged me out of the saddle at the trot, there was so much energy there!

  12. GoLightly.
    I’d be happy to comment, but I believe that I have to back up a step and return to definitions once again, to make sure that we are speaking about the same thing.
    A true collection actually requires more energy than a lengthening of the stride. A horse that just shortens the stride, but plods/shuffles along with the hind legs is not collected. What the horse lose in stride length it must compensate with engagement in the hind legs, as described above.
    No dressage rider works with collection all the time. You vary both the form you ride the horse in, you work with collection/lengthening of the stride in all gaits, transitions, and you work with different exercises to bend the body. I also agree with you that the horse has to be ready to go forward, at all times.
    But again, what do we mean with collection/lengthening/extension?
    If one with collection mean the dressage definition as in competitions, it does not come into the programs until M-level (I don’t know the US-definition, sorry), and that also goes for extensions. Advanced classes.
    In the novice programs you have lengthening of strides but not “extensions”.
    So in that sense, I agree with you that “lengthening comes first”.
    But in my opinion, you can not ride a good lengthening of the stride on a horse that does not possess the ability of a certain degree of collection.
    Because the horse has to stay balanced.
    To lengthen the strides with the fore legs, the horse has also to equally step under with the hind legs, to keep the balance. You have horses that show off with impressive forelegs, but if the hind legs are trailing it is not a correct extension.
    In lower dressage classes, very few riders get good marks on the lengthening of the stride. Reason for this is that the horse instead of lengthening the strides and keeping the rhythm runs faster and ends on the forehand.

    But you know, in my eyes dressage does not need to be all that complicated stuff.
    You don’t need to be able to ride piaffe to be a dressage rider.
    A well executed transition from trot to walk is a moment of collection.
    You don’t need that horse with super gaits and an ideal conformation. Even a backyard mongrel will be beautiful and a pleasant ride and give you joy with a bit of dressage put into it. That’s the beauty of it. All horses can benefit, and will probably stay healthier too.
    Go out there and have fun with your horse. If it’s not perfect, doesn’t matter! Just play around, see what happens, and I can promise you that you will have a lot of fun on the road.
    Mug’s description how to help Ezra is straight on. Start to feel. How do you sit? How does your horse move? This is the foundation, also in my dressage-world.
    I’m no expert. I’m just your average rider with a vivid interest of dressage. It’s super fun! Come join me!
    Stay tuned with Mugs. I certainly will.

  13. I'm glad that HoC described the distinction between lengthening and extension. Work on lengthening and shortening stride can be begun quite early in training; that's what my training level horse is working on now. Collection & extensions are much further in our future training.
    The "collection" I did with my hunters was somewhere between a shortening and the collection you need in advanced dressage.

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  16. Mugwump said - "C'mon Ginger-Give it up. How do you collect your horse?"

    Well, I don't have anything to add because that is one of the things I am still learning and struggling with, and can't wait to read through all these comments. I love your blog by the way, been following it a while, just decided to become someone who comments as well.

    Kasey @

  17. The German training scale is:
    But actually, they are entwined and depending on each other.
    The first three are what you are aiming for when starting the horse, but you always turn back to them. Then you start to work with the development of the thrust from the hindquarters - impulsion and straightness, to eventually develop the carrying power of the hind legs; collection.
    You know, I really have strived to improve my own riding.
    And I believe most of my fellow riders do too.
    It is so easy to see things that are not correct. But I am convinced that all the riders are really trying to do their best, and most of them are also fully aware of their shortcomings.
    Maybe that’s also why many riders start with jumping instead, because dressage is scary. You put your riding abilities more on the line, so to say.
    So I don’t like to criticize. I prefer to look at what’s good.
    I honour sympathetic riders. Riders that have a good seat, and a soft hand, no matter the quality of the horse. Those that love their horse, and take a spooky-horse-day with a shrug and a pat instead of getting upset and angry.
    And regarding the Olympics? All qualified to start the Olympics deserves a medal, if you ask me. We can quarrel at length about training methods, and if the judging was correct.
    To take a horse to GP-level is an achievement. Really. I have not done that, so I just take off my hat and bow to those that have.

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  19. Great explanations again HoC!

    My first reaction to this post was transitions, transitions, transitions! That's what works for me anyway. I've mostly ridden at the lower levels of dressage (except for when I rode a friend's retired grand prix horse for a few years, OMG it was so much fun, I was never able to ride passage with a straight face, I was always giggling). Anyway at lower levels the process I've been taught to use is to ride them forward into the bridle and throw in lots of transitions to bring the hind legs underneath. As far as the lengthenings go, I feel it's a real balancing act. You want them to lengthen the stride and go forward, but not so much that the hind legs are left behind and they start to fall on their forehand. Once that starts to happen you have to back them off, get those hind legs underneath them and try again. Hopefully after a while they build up the strength to maintain the carriage and engagement in the hind end to be able to lengthen for longer periods of time before everything falls apart again. So what comes first? It's kind of the chicken and the egg. Similar to what GoLightly said, going forward/ lengthening the stride and collection need to be worked on at the same time. However, I agree with HoC that lengthening is different than true extensions in terms of upper level dressage and I'd have to say collection definitely has to come before true extensions.

  20. I love this.
    I think because getting these different viewpoints is helping me understand my horse. I like to say I have a cow pony that's living a lie as a dressage horse. While that's not completetly true, it is harder for him than most. I've learned a lot about the way he's naturally programmed from reading this blog. My trainer and I have been trying to teach him to "lift" and he wants to be down low.

    We've been through a lot with my horse. He's a 5 year old paint. Short coupled, downhill, mutton withered, about 15.2, and as wide as he is tall. Finn's great talent is avoidance. We worked and worked for the longest time just to get him to un-hollow and get his nose out of the sky. How did we do it? Forward. When he decided to ignore me, he planted his head in the strasphere and locked it there. All I could do was ask for forward. If I got rough with my hands, it just made it worse. At our very worst, he learned to fall out through his shoulders almost to a point of being dangerous. He got so bad he became unsteerable. We hit the fence more than once because I wanted to turn right, and he wanted to fall to the left. We fixed all this by straightness and FORWARD. Lots of it.

    The more I pushed him forward, and got him moving off his hind end, the easier it was for him to drop down. I would also widen my hands. My trainer called it "funneling" him. If we had forward, and his head was still in the stratosphere, I widened my hands. When he dropped down and rounded his back I brought my hands back in. This is not to say my legs weren't doing any work either. I was almost constantly asking for forward and pushing him over with the inside leg. I learned to keep him from falling out by using my hip to block his outside shoulder. We were making great amounts of progress and then he got hurt. We don't know what he's done to himself, but we have a chiro coming out (for both of us).

    Before he got hurt, we we working on the same things as before, and starting to work on straightness. I list off to the left side. Badly. Consequently, Finn is weaker to his left (thus the falling out, mainly through his left shoulder). We have a very hard time keeping each other together and not falling all over the place when going left.

    Maybe we should have worked on straightness more at first. Maybe that would have helped the "head in the sky" and falling out issue. Hindsight is sometimes the best teacher. Once we figure out what's wrong, and solve it, I'm looking forward to doing these exercises with him.

    I can't really describe what collection means to me. We're still working on it and have a long way to go. This is new for me too. I grew up riding hunters, then moved to an eventing barn, now I have my poor confused and very obstinate boy. I want him to move freely and happily, through his hind end, to his back, to his neck, poll, and to his nose. Whatever steps we have to take to get there (and keep him happy) are fine with me.

  21. Yes, Mocharocks.
    Transistions, transistions :-)
    Within the gaits, between the gaits.
    And I also agree that shortening/lengthening as well as collection/extension goes hand-in-hand. But to be able to lengthen you need to have a certain amount of carrying ability in those hind legs. And start with small demands over short distances (yes, the balancing act!)

  22. Disclaimer: I have not read all the recent posts/comments with great attention.

    I find this discussion very interesting. Perhaps I missed something, but when we discuss collection is it presumed that the horse is already soft (pliable/supple/whatever your term is)? Admittedly achieving softness is an ongoing process but my experience/teaching is that you cannot collect/compress something that is not soft. I am not trying to be critical, but it seems we have moved to collection and straightness. How did we get there? What did we do to our respective horses to prepare them to be collected?

    This might be a 'lingo thing' where we are saying the same thing, just two different ways, but I am curious.

  23. WP: that's a big short cut that the trainers use to make them lope slower & seem collected, I think it originally started with some idea revolving around the fact that when the horse was on a slight circle etc it gave the slow/smooth/stride that they wanted, and then it was overused and became what you see now.

    Collection: being as I ride western and english I really have no idea. With western I'd say the horse has probably broken at the poll (maybe) and is moving in such a balanced way that it can instantly respond. With english I've always thought it was more of that except with contanct and in a specific frame and more fast-ish just b/c it has more to do with impulsion. But then it's been a while since I rode a horse with any training near this since all I've got are the 2 and 3 y/o. I have ridden a WP horse w/ what I felt wasn't real collection b/c you were supposed to drop your hands to your knees, get a firm contact and push them up into it... but it didn't actually feel collected just slow and with a headset.

  24. Like many of the people who have already commented, I love talking about collection. It's one of those discussions where you can talk yourself upside down, backwards, and in circles, and still end up right back in the same place. When people argue the same point back and forward trying to say the exact same thing without taking the time to realize they're not even really arguing in the first place... well, it amuses me.

    Much of our differences, as riders anyway, come from the percieved notion of another rider's sport of choice. There is good and bad in every sport, and pointing out only the bad and claiming it holds true to every horse in that chosen method of riding is just blissful ignorance. We all have our moments of beauty and minutes of disgrace. It's more about the process of improving than putting someone down for the hundred rough steps it takes to get just three little seconds of wow. Once you realize this, accept your slap in the face, and open your eyes you'll find we aren't really that different in the end. It's just that many people are unwilling to admit that they might possibly need to try something else, or learn something new, and that's where we get into trouble.

    My personal experience with dressage is limited to a very basic understanding of the term collection. I've found, however, that applying that understanding to my pleasure horse has done wonders for his learning curve. Finding those seconds and minutes of rounding and collection is like floating on a cloud. I never knew my horse could do that until I understood collection and the mechanics required to achieve it. With my horse it's harder for him to collect because he's somewhat long in the back. Because of this he does not drive as well with his hind end and cannot bring his hindquarters up under him as neatly as a more compact horse is capable of. In asking him to collect and making him aware that bringing his back up allows him a freer movement with his hindquarters, I have been able to show him a much more efficient way of achieving the slower movements pleasure riding requires without training his into a four-beat gait. I am very grateful to a good friend for taking the time to explain that to me and to educate me before I ruined what could potentially be a very well-trained horse. While my horse will never show at the higher levels of pleasure, nor would he ever be suitable for anything more ambitious than the most basic dressage maneuvers (he knows shoulder in and out, haunches in, and how to sidepass) he can still be all that his conformational potential will allow thanks to a basic understanding of collection.

  25. This is so fun!
    I just wanted to add something. I like that no one is really quibbling about western vs. english "versions" of collection, or that there's no "wrong" way. But I believe there is...

    I had a cowboy start my horse. I have nothing against cowboys or western riding at all. There are bad eggs in all disciplines. This one was a bad egg, but didn't seem so until things got more complicated. He did really well with Finn at first, then things started to get bad. Finn had been going in a bosal, and then a simple snaffle beautifully. He knew how to go, stop, turn, and yield to pressure. Then Mr. Coyboy started talking about collection. His idea of collection was to put a enormously shanked walking horse bit in my horse's mouth. He truly believed that collection started in the mouth and would radiate to the hind end. While there could be some merit to this, I was not letting him anywhere near my horse with that bit. I tried to explain that in most basic cases, it started in the hind end. He didn't believe me, and I politely told him not to ride my horse again.

    This has been such a great discussion. I just wanted to throw that experience out there.

  26. How I collect my horse... I think this post describes it really well for me being one of the dressage people!

    I AM intimidated and don't think I have the gift of going into all the details but here goes...

    I start off letting my mare walk on the buckle (loose reins). We go around the arena in both directions, relaxed and getting the blood flowing.

    I pick up the reins and I ask her to continue forward while I have direct contact with her mouth... I am not really at full collection here - but I'm asking her to think about it and moving her into my hands. I keep walking and I add in serpentines, figure 8's and circles to get her warmed up and bending in both directions.

    I ask her to keep straight - nose in front of neck, ears level, neck in front of shoulders, haunches following shoulders, bending thru her ribs and I ask her to keep moving forward reaching more into my hand - coming out through her withers with her neck... coming through her back... stepping under herself with her back legs.

    Once she is comfortably and correctly going forward and straight I will take more rein and ask for collection... and then we move into trot work and canter work. Always the same - asking for her to be straight, relaxed, moving forward, coming over her back through my hands.

    We have moments of stiffness and unbalanced movement and so we correct it and we go on... I mean this is what we are all striving for isn't it? - better and better rides with more and more moments where the horse is going well and correctly for our sport.

    My mare tends to get stiff in her neck and jaw - she is not completely through... it can be awful at shows but we keep going because how will she ever learn to remain through at a show unless we keep going?

    I guess it's not "awful" because we place and we get consistantly good scores but this is what is always in the judges comments and I know it's an issue for us.

    In our partnership, I am constantly working on relaxing her, getting her more through over her back - reaching into my hand and accepting the contact. It's never abrupt or a fight to get her there cuz that just makes it worse...she will fight back if I'm not fair. I really need to finesse her and use a lot of different exercises to get her there.

    I try to keep a notebook and will write down highlights from lessons and clinics. I will refer back to the different exercises/ideas and concepts. It's also a great way to see how far she's come since I started her!!

    She loves lateral, forward movements... leg yield, half-pass, shoulder-in, haunches-in, canter work, extentions... she does NOT like the movements that lack the forward... I know ALL of it is forward - even when you are going backwards, you are thinking forward...but I'm trying to convince HER of that. heh heh.

    She is not at all liking the simple changes (they are coming MUCH better now tho!) or the canter pirouettes... ooo she is not happy 'bout them at all right now and lets me know!!

    When we introduce new concepts she reverts to her bad habits of hollowing her back, going thru her right shoulder, travelling with her haunches in and getting stiff in her neck and jaw.

    We work to keep her "correct" and round and relaxed in the new work and she progresses...and gets stronger and understands what I'm asking and then all goes well.

    When she is going well, and scoring consistantly in shows, I know it's time to increase the work and move up the levels in Dressage and begin again with the harder work all over again.

    She's mentally handling things so much better than she did at 4. At 4 there was kicking and sucking back and rearing... now she still goes forward, forward, forward and will make ugly faces and occasionally kicks out... but it is not at all the drama it was when she was first learning.

    She'd be perfectly happy to remain a First Level horse... but I want more and since I'm paying her feed bill... well....she makes icky faces and fights at first but then she gives in to the hairless pink monkey on her back and tries really hard for me.

    It is incredibly gratifying and wonderful and yes, it's like making your average car into a luxury ride and I DO love it. I love my mare - she is wonderful and we work really well together. She teaches me so much.

    Maybe this all sounds really jumbly and awful... but we are happy and doing well even if it sounds like we aren't! It's all about the journey...

  27. Heater- I think that type of thing is pretty common, maybe not to that extreme, but common. A lot of inexperienced dressage people only focus on the headset. They want their horses to have the look of "being on the bit" so they crank on their mouths and force them into a "frame". They don't realize that you need to not worry too much about the head, start going forward, get the hind end engaged. Once that is working, the horse's head will start to relax, come down and start going into the bridle on its own. Let's face it, how many times have we all seen a person pulling and yanking and see-sawing on a horse's mouth to get the head where they want it to be because it "looks cool"? I know I've seen it, heck, I did a bit of that myself when I was a teenager and first getting into dressage and didn't have a clue as to what I was doing. Yeesh, makes me cringe just thinking about it...

  28. Shanster- that was really nice, and a very good description.
    But all you western riders out there- how do you do it? I would really like to know. Laura has described what she means with collection. Do you agree?
    Mugs, you said that the Western rider on the Western+dressage youtube-video was not a good example. Could you find one that is, please?

  29. Oh yes - and transitions! Helps so much with balance... see? There are SO many things to think about and so many tools in the toolbox..

    And extentions and collecting and the coiled spring...

    all of's why I have to take notes after lessons/clinics!

    I learned that the horse is balanced both laterally and longitudinally... they can be straight in their body but if they are fast and slow and slow and fast without a consistant rythym, they aren't fully balanced. You gotta have both...

  30. Shanster, good point about rhythm, I almost completely forgot about rhythm. Ugh, there is just so much to remember!

  31. The WP "hook" is used to teach a horse to lift their inside shoulder while continuing to lope up underneath themselves in an even cadence.

  32. I am sooo loving this dialouge. Excellent explanation. I have worked with Dressage, reining, H/J, WP, and plain old get me to ride better trainers. Other than the WP trainers, all of them in their own way have told me the same thing as in your post. I have had some tell me to pick them up with my calves (rounding out)while driving them onto the bit with my seat. I have had some tell me to use their impulsion and feather my cues with the reins. (open and closing of my hands)At one time I was so confused until I was able to aptly show and describe to my H/J Trainer what I was doing with another horse at my Reining trainers. She smacked me on the leg and said, "yep, it's the same thing! Must be cowboy talk." She was a hoot.

    Okay Mugs, I need information on the following. I coach an Intercollegiate Western Team. At the last show, the school that hosted the show said to the teams that the majority of the horses were all "spur broke". Okay, the coah went on to explain "spur broke" as this. If you want the horse to slow down press in more with your spurs. Don't press forever though or the horse will stop. These were all currently competing WP horses who have competed and placed well at congress and Worlds. Maybe it's just me, but that went against everything I have ever been taught. When I questioned this, I was told that is what everybody does. No other coach questioned it, they all seemed fine. Am I just out of touch or is this a new trend? I just cannot get my head wrapped around it, nor will I subject my horses to it. One of my concerns is we use a lot of my horses for IHSA shows. If a rider who is used to riding "spur broke" tries that with one of mine, they are going to get pitched. My horses all now what a spur is. I have always been taught it is an extension of my leg, and is used to help with cues. I do not use them all the time, but for various reasons over the years I have had occasion to use them, but I have always been concious of their purpose and use. So if you can elaborate on this or find out more I would very much appreciate it.

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  34. littlebit- Is the hip into the arena? Are they pushing the outside hind into the inside fore?
    heater-here is the keystone to all horses in my opinion, forward....
    Here I come guys. I love to talk about collection too, so I'm going to carry on with my thoughts in a new post...

  35. Well, I'm stuck right now, but it's because of -12F degree temps we're having. But I don't think even you can fix that :) If it weren't for that, I'd be out there living on my mare trying to get this right. I should be able to ride this weekend though, it's supposed to get up to 18 and 24 degrees out.

    I'm glad you are going to collection. But it sounds like what you told me to do is the start of that anyhow :) The trainer had said AND the chiro could tell that she doesn't push herself, she drags herself with her front and the chiro said she was really sore and bound and because she had probably been doing that a long long time, it was difficult for her to do it the right way. So I think that's part of collection, right? The part where you and HoC say "when you start to ride a young horse, it's rather on the forehand," maybe that's our problem right at this point. She may not be young, but newly riding/working.

    One thing I recall from riding at the end of summer to now, is that she steadily got worse with giving her head. She used to kind of tuck her chin nicely and was rounded at the poll (I think I'm saying all this correctly). She doesn't do that anymore and if I try to have contact with the reins (I ride with them really loose as she usually reponds good) she immediately slows down and acts all confused and I lose steering and we start fighting. I think that was my problem when I rode tuesday and experimented. Do I just need to keep on trying to push her forward but asking for her head and she will eventually get it?

    I get so excited when I'm trying to do these things.

  36. I don't have the time to do this right, but collection on a gaited horse is also different. When i have my fox trotter collected he's on the bit, has contact, and is moving forward. When he decides to goof off, he's going every which way with his feet, which I call skipping, you can feel it come through his face to his front feet through his back and on out the hind end. Then he sets himself back up and we go again. I know there is a better way to say this, but I'm pressed for time and gotta go. i'll come back later

  37. Ezra- Ask with only one rein at a time for now.If you're guiding with your left, keep the right rein loose. If she is dropping into her circle play with your one rein and legs to fix it.... You're right, I'm starting you and you're mare the way I start a young horse. Don't think "collect" just yet, simply give. She will begin to collect on her own, just by translating what you want with these exercises.

  38. Wow. There are just so many things to think of when training a horse. And so many steps that are intertwined to help with another part. Interesting how much you lose when simple beginning steps aren't quite up to par. Everything falls apart. I will just do the guiding and not worry about collection quite yet. Can't wait for warmer weather!! Sad when 18 is considered warm. lol

  39. Wow, it seems like eventhough there are different ends to be reached by the different discplines, everyone pretty much agrees with the same general method of teaching collection.....just using different words to describe it.

    I was taught that the "definition" of collection is: "The exchange of forward motion for vertical motion."

    Start with forward. Once you get some really good forward movement going on, start to shape it, until the forward becomes "walking in place" (piaffe and such), using the same amount of thrust, cadence, and power as you had when it was all forward.

    Pretty sweet. :)

  40. The canting the hip into the circle is used to slow the horse down but the main reason the WP horse's hip is/was canted in toward the middle was to make the inside hock drive up further underneath of the horse to give the illusion that the horse was really driving up and to make a bigger split between the two rear legs. Because at the time that was winning. People were to worried about the the hock. When you worry about the hock you forget about the front leg, which will shorten the front leg stride, which in turn will make the horse have to use its head and neck to lift the front leg up out of the way of the rear leg making it look like the pump jack. Plus the slower the horse, the harder it is for them to lift and drive IF they are not a natural mover.

    Now I am one of those western riders that show those lame, low headed, shuffling horses. The reason I continue to ride and show the WP horse is to contribute to change in our sport. By giving the judge a more natural looking WP horse.
    The heads may look low to you but it could be the conformation of the horse. My mare will carry her head level to just below the withers naturally. Yes as a group the WP has gone to extremes but we are working at going back to the middle of the road.

    The barn I am from we work on collection more like mugwump posted. But our horses won't have the lift of a warmblood because they are lower and flatter. Yet I feel that lift when I wrap both legs around the barrel and squeeze and drive them into the bridle. When I feel that I release because I am striving for 'self- carriage'. I want the horse to do it on its own.

    It all comes down to natural ability. Some have more, some have less, it is up to us as riders to determine if how much a horse can do and not try to fit it into a square peg into a round hole. That is what happened in the WP industry.

    Sorry mugwump for not really addressing collection. (By the way I really enjoy your blog.) Just trying to answer some of the WP questions.