Today, collecting a horse is a
highly misunderstood concept, even among the most famous riders in all
types of riding. This article will simplify the concept to the point that
anyone will be able to understand it, thus anyone will be able to evaluate
the riding/training capacity of any horseman, rider or teacher.
and balance are closely tied together. The name collection often has other
names, like gathering, or putting the horse together. The concept of
collecting a horse is to put together not only the balance
of the animal under a rider, but to collect the needed energy
for the added weight of the rider, as well as for the upcoming task, which
will give the horse the needed level of impulsion.
These (below) three schematics of the horse's skeleton will explain and clarify the collection of a horse in the riding concept in the simplest way. They show the gradual collection of the horse, which means lowering the angles in the joints in the hind legs, while setting them more under. At the same time, it shows the gradual erection of the neck/head in relation to the collection, thus providing better balance of the horse.
The schematics above show the importance of the relationship between the erecting of the neck to the lowering of the hind joint with setting the hind legs under. Not even in the beginning stage of the young horse is the bit below the horizontal line in relation to the hip. The straightness of the red line (impulsion line) guarantees good impulsion/forward swing of the entire body.
schematics above show the center of gravity moving gradually toward
the rear and more to the center of the supportive structure of the
horse, thus equally distributing the weight of the rider and the
horse on all four legs of the horse.
Collecting the horse is about collecting the needed energy for the upcoming task, as well as about the balance. This can be accomplished only through the lowering of the hind leg joints (it’s same in people, like a sprinter in the starting blocks, or a person before taking off on a jump, or just simply squatting before jumping up). By lowering the angles of the joints in the hind legs, the horse's head/neck will automatically go up (mechanics). This is why it is so important that the balanced riding horse flexes its neck at its highest point (the poll).
If the horse flexes in the center of his neck, the bit ends up below the hip line (breaking the horizontal/straight line in relation to the bit through point A to the hips, thus losing the forward swing/impulsion) and there will be inevitable problems. Hence using any equipment (other than the bit, plain reins and mainly the rider’s hands, seat and leg aids) to flex the horse’s head will ultimately throw the horse off balance, as well as out of collection.
When we are talking about the horse’s head being on the vertical,
that alone does not collect or balance the horse. The so called
vertical position (it should never be in it when in motion)
the horse’s head mainly relates to the acceptance
of the bit by the horse, as well as
its ability to find the
most comfortable position for taking the pressure of the bit in
relation to the rider's
Since the vertical position of the head alone does not balances or collect the horse, it proves in itself the misunderstanding of the whole concept of collecting a horse by many riders, because most of them are too concerned with that and think that it actually shows a more collected horse.
Collecting a horse gets done from both ends equally,
but as it is, most reputable riders today cannot ride the horse as a
whole, but are capable only of riding the front end of the horse;
hence we have today just about all horses in all levels of riding on
On the other hand, when we ask the horse to erect its head (often seen by jumpers), without adequately lowering the angles of the hind joints, the pressure downward on the back increases immensely and again causes many physical as well as mental problems for the horse. Both incorrect forms of riding not only cause injuries (sore stifles, sore back, front end problems associated with navicular, etc.) and pain to horses, but they also demonstrate themselves in the mentality of the horse, who is then more nervous, anxious and/or less willing to go to work.
This schematic shows the downward stress on the horse’s back, when the neck is raised without the lowering of the angles of the hind joints. This is commonly seen on horses who carry their heads high. It’s also very often done by jumping riders when they yank the horse’s head up before a jump, thus falsely trying to engage the hind, or collect the needed impulse for the take off.
This is very common in dressage today, as well as among western pleasure horses (among others). The difference between the two (dressage and western pleasure) is only the fact that the western pleasure horses go even more out of balance due to the straight forward, extended necks, while the inadequate dressage riders manage to flex the horse’s neck and put the head on the vertical, while dropping the head below the hip. This schematic shows the stress upward (hunch backs) against the back, while disengaging the hind legs (the motor) to a bare minimum.
|Both schematics above show the break (loss) in the impulsion/swinging-forward motion of the horse's body, generated by the pushing-off/impulse of the hind legs.|
|The saddest part is that the riders who cause such pain and sorrow to these animals will actually state that they love horses, while they care more about their reputation/their looks than the horse’s well-being.|
All the horses
in the above photos show certain discomforts demonstrated in the
swooshing/swirling of their tails. The way in which and how the rider achieves
the collection will show in the horse's willingness to perform/give it.
An unsuitable horse for riding purposes, obviously.
[French campagne, from Italian campagna, military operation, from Late Latin campania, open country, battlefield, from campus, field.] (back where I was)
Edited by J. G. April 19th,
Written* and translated by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek
*The technical aspects of this articles is a translation from the 1953 Special Zoo-Technique - Breeding of Horses
Published in 1953 by the Czechoslovakian Academy of Agricultural Science and certified by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Written by: MVDr Ludvik Ambroz, Frabtisek Bilek, MVDr Karel Blazek, Ing. Jaromir Dusek, Ing. Karel Hartman, Hanus Keil, pro. MVDr Emanuel Kral, Karel Kloubek, Ing. Dr. Frantisek Lerche, Ing. Dr Vaclav Michal, Ing. Dr Zdenek Munki, Ing. Vladimir Mueller, MVDr Julius Penicka, pro. MVDr Emil Pribyl, MVDr Lev Richter, prof. Ing. Dr Josef Rechta, MVDr Karel Sejkora and Ing. Dr Jindrich Steinitz.