There is, let’s say, a little mystery in this
concept about collection, also sometimes referred to as submission. We’re going to try to simplify
it and make it available to even a most novice rider. It is the piece that often brings your
horse to a much better performance, and I don’t mind at all, and I try to get my novice
riders to start putting a little bit of collection in to their ride fairly early on. As soon
as their hands can remain quiet in front of the saddle, and it seems as though they can
not interfere with the horse, but rather compliment the horse, we begin to teach that idea of
collection. Collection is just part of a horse’s ability to what we call move forward off of
those strong haunches, the hind quarter, in a round fashion, and submit to the pressure
of the bit. We don’t want to think of it as we’re trying to bring that horse back in to
collection and jam them in to it. We want to think of it as they move forward in to
the bridle. Even as we stand here, we can learn a lot about this process of collection.
Then we can take it to the moving forward piece, which is the very important part about
they move forward in to the bridle. In order to collect a horse, the rider wants to remember
their very basic elbow to the horses mouth, straight line position. Depending on your
discipline, that may require that you’re hand be a little bit lower, maybe a little bit
higher, or even higher yet for some of our saddle seat kind of horses. For our Western
horse here, we’re going to be right here, positioned in front of the pommel. We’re going
to create what we call an elastic rein length. My rider’s going to hold her rein securely
with her fingers closed, so that she can create the feeling that there’s elastic here in the
rein. And just by drawing her fingers back, as though she were what we call, “half haulting”,
that drawing back of our fingers with out moving our hands, she’s going to ask this
horse to begin submitting. Inside the horses mouth, the mechanism of the bit creates a
pressure against the roof of his mouth that he should want to move away from that pressure.
As a horse submits, we begin to see him what we call, “chew softly”. That’s a sign of a
horse’s recognition that he needs to be compliant and submit to the bridle. We see him begin,
he’s right on target, and now after he’s done this “chewing softly”, we should feel him
backing away and want to experiment with how to make this bit feel the best in his mouth.
Certainly, the piece of the horse moving forward in to bridle is going to be very important
as we move to the next frame, but knowing and understanding how your basic mechanics
in the way of holding the pressure, not pulling, but rather holding the pressure, will begin
to bring this horse in to an easy and basic collected frame.