Having the ability to shorten your horse’s stride without losing activity takes years of correct training. Florian Bacher shows you how to start your journey towards collection with some easy exercises to fit into your training.
Don’t forget to warm up before you start the exercises.
Activating the hindleg
Riding transitions within the canter helps to activate the hindlegs.
Ask for a more collected canter on a 20m circle.
On the circle, release your inside rein to allow your horse’s inside hindleg to step under his body more, so he carries himself.
As you collect the canter, make sure your horse stays active and reactive to your inside leg.
“As you collect him, sit there and let him do the work,” says Florian. “It’s important not to collect on your hand – instead, you should collect on your seat by using little half-halts. If you ride collection on your hand, his hindleg can’t come through and activity will be lost.”
Once you’ve mastered this exercise, Florian suggests you build on it by riding a more collected pace on a circle in shoulder-in position.
You can also ride shoulder-fore down the long side and collect for a few steps so you’re almost riding on the spot, then ride forwards again.
Controlling the tempo
Another really useful exercise to try is riding with a slightly longer rein, so your horse can go in a longer and lower frame.
Now, play with the trot tempo.
Collect the pace by slowing your rising in and out of the saddle – the aim is to control the tempo from the speed of your rising and not your hand.
Being in control of the tempo is a vital skill to have.
This is a fun exercise to try and you’ll soon discover how sensitive your horse is to movements in the saddle.
It can take time to master, as it’s easy to let your horse dictate the speed of the trot, but be disciplined and really focus on slowing the speed of your rising – you’ll be amazed at the control you have.
“If your horse gets a little strong in the rein in this exercise, ride a smaller circle to help slow the pace,” suggests Florian. “Then leg-yield out onto a bigger circle. This will help you to stay in control of the pace without relying on your reins.”
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