One of the reasons I called this article ‘Thoughts on Collection’ is because using reins, legs, seat, spurs, bits, and whips should come WAY after you think about it. Instead of hauling horse’s head in & then driving the hindquarters with seat, legs, etc., what if you approached it from the opposite direction?
It would just warm the cockles of my heart if you just stopped reading right here and thought about what that might mean. What IS the other direction? What would that entail? How would I go about that? Why would I want to?
I know some of you aren’t interested in whether or not my heart cockles are warmed, but to get this far, you probably at least passed those questions across your mind while you read them. I would love it if you wrote your thoughts in the comments box. Don’t be shy. Everyone, myself included, benefits from the open exchange.
Okay, okay, but this is all for you. Critical thinking.
Could you start with seeing how little ask, pressure and for how short a time you possibly could? While having horse’s head in a frame is probably YOUR desired result, forget about it. That isn’t where we’re going just now. Flour isn’t a cake, but it takes flour to make the cake. And forget about using ANY ‘go’ aids. Forget it! A much ignored tenet of classical dressage is “hands, no leg, leg, no hands”. Uh? Ponder that! Anyway – back at the ranch, ASK ever so lightly. Ever so lightly! For horse to give his head just a ‘bob’. Do it once, maybe twice and then casually walk off like you just saw a cactus wren in a Saguaro. And by that I mean completely NOT focused on horse.
Then, casually as you’re walking along, ask again, lightly, and walk off, distracted, again. Mosey about and ask again, LIGHTLY. Still, you’re not going for any frame or time in position here, just a response. The reason…
for going about it in this opposite direction is to cause horse to think that it’s not a big deal and he can do it quickly and quietly under myriad circumstances. And for you to experience just how little it will take to get a soft horse in just a little time.
So, in order to get that, yep – you need to ask at the walk, trot, canter, halt and backup. Just don’t let your demanding nature take over and ask/demand/require more. And no go aids for the ask. Of course you’ll need to be able to walk, trot and canter horse on a loose rein, but that’s not this article.
Give it a shot and we’ll move to the next step soon. But, wait, don’t go there too soon. Ask Lightly!