4 thoughts on “Collection

  1. I have a questions about a running Martingale. I am having a hard time getting my horse to collect. He wants to keep his head way above the bit. Would a Martingale work for this?

    1. You didn’t give me much to go on. I am not sure what level rider you are or what type of training your horse has had. I will offer a couple of general suggestions that come to mind quickly.

      First, read the article on the Martingales. That might give you some insight into its use. Second, consider WHY he rides with his head up. Will he come into your hands at all, or does he fight every time you put pressure on the reins?

      Examine his mouth (or have an expert examine it) for signs of tooth or gum issues that may make the bit uncomfortable. Also consider what type of bit he is wearing. If his bit is uncomfortable every time pressure is put on it, he is showing signs of bit-avoidance.

      Now examine your riding habits. Are you too heavy with your hands? Do you constantly use them to balance your own seat, dragging on his mouth constantly?

      It’s much too large an issue without more details. But maybe something in these general questions can help you make that decision.

  2. I have a question on equine behavior, that I am struggling to understand and I am wondering if you shed some light on it.

    It has to do with a horse’s behavior when ridden bridless. We work on a balanced rider basis inwhich direction, impulsion, are such that the horses are able to be ridden in their respective discipline bridless. The horses perform all gates and movements, softly and with self carriage. The behaviour I am trying to understand is that they sometimes drop their heads very low as if stretching their topline, still staying collected. It is not bit evasion as there is no bit. Remaining as I mentioned, soft, and supple. Discipline seems to have an impact on frequency, with our jumpers doing it more frequently,,,typically after a combination jump. with our cutting horses doing less frequently, typically when warming up…. Any theories??

    I greatly appreciate you assistance. If possible I would love to discuss on the phone.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Phil. You are probably more of an expert than I.
      Do your horses employ this behavior when riding on a bit or only when bridle-less? Do you do any dressage horses?

      All dressage horses stretch their top-line, particularly in a slow trot or easy canter, between maneuvers and during warm-ups. It helps lift the back and collect the horse all over as opposed to just pulling his head and neck back to “look” collected when they are not.
      Here is a picture of one of our horses doing his top-line stretch while running through a dressage warm-up. Is this the type of stretch you are seeing.

      Collection is good for both cutting horses and jumping horses, and stretching the top-line is usually a good thing. Perhaps your bridle-less horses are really “getting into it” as they stretch their top-line out to perform more easily for lifting off (jumping takes back and rear muscles) and for direction changes (cutting which also requires back and rear muscles). It makes sense that the stretch is more important to the horse after more stressful maneuvers such as the double or combination jumps where he goes from collected to extended in quick succession and may feel the need to round his back for balance, comfort and relaxation.

      I can’t explain why it happens more in a bridle-less horse than with a bit unless the bit or the rider using it are inhibiting that stretch somehow.


      If this doesn’t make sense, perhaps another reader might give us some insight.

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