How to teach your horse collection

Discover the true meaning of collection and try an easy exercise, designed to help you teach your horse the early stages of collection.

Collection, one of the six scales of training including; rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness and collection, will only be developed once the other scales of training are in place - so it really pays to work on them systematically (to read more on the scales of training click here).

What horse collection looks like

When a horse works in collection he looks as though his forehand has been lifted although in fact it is his back end that has lowered as he takes more weight on his hind in collection. As the haunches take more weight, his forehand becomes lighter and it is this that allows him to perform more advanced movements.

Although you won’t be doing anything advanced with your novice horse, there are baby stages of collection that you should definitely be concentrating on. For instance, the very early stages of collection is balance. A horse who isn’t balanced will take more of his weight on his forehand and use the reins for support. By working on this, you gradually ask your horse to shift his weight to his hind legs and carry himself in front - viola, the first stages of collection!

To develop collection in canter, try this…

EXERCISE: This simple exercise is ridden on a 20m circle in canter. You’ll be riding your horse forward for a few strides before collecting his canter.

Why ride it?

This is often used as the first stage of teaching your horse collection. Riding it on a 20m circle helps you perfect it because the constant bend of the circle encourages your horse to step through with his inside hind leg. It’s also a great way to learn to use your seat and body position to steady your horse.

Avoiding the pitfalls

If you use too much rein to collect your horse, you’ll block his forward movement and interrupt the rhythm. He may also become heavy in the contact and tip onto his forehand, making it more difficult for him to show the change in the pace.

Close your thighs and tighten your tummy to ask your horse to collect his canter

Close your thighs and tighten your tummy to ask your horse to collect his canter

How to ride it

  • On a 20m circle establish a good, relaxed working canter, making sure you’re riding an accurate circle.
  • Ask your horse for medium strides for approximately half a circle by relaxing your seat and nudging with your inside leg to ask him to move forwards. 
  • Close your thighs and tighten your tummy to ask your horse to collect his canter for three to four strides.

Do you have some tips on collection? Share them with your fellow readers in the comments section below....