When your horse works in collection, his hind legs step forward under his body, transferring his weight back onto his hind end and lightening his forehand.

Collection is the last of the scales of training, and not only does it help to strengthen your horse but it also carries benefits for both flatwork and jumping.

Collection is required for dressage, and can be helpful for controlling his speed when approaching a fence on a jumping course.

There are a number of ways to encourage your horse to step underneath his body with his hind legs, including the following exercise favoured by 5* event rider Willa Newton, which is suitable for horses at all stages of their training.

“When introducing something new, remember it’s all about building confidence,” she says. “Don’t ask for too much or make it too difficult too soon. Do this exercise little and often, and stop if you feel your horse is getting tired.”

How to do it:

  1. Go large in canter, establishing a balanced rhythm
  2. At one end of your school or paddock, ride a 20m circle
  3. Staying on the circle, ask for a more forward canter for five strides
  4. Next, collect the canter for four strides
  5. Repeat this a few times before changing the rein and repeating on the other side

Ready to take it to the next level? Once you’ve mastered this, make the circle smaller, going down to a 10m circle when you can.

Meet the expert: Willa Newton is a five-star-level event rider based in Melton Mowbray. She finished in the top 10 at Burghley in 2018. 

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