7 steps to using the Scales of Training: #6 COLLECTION

Collection is the ultimate scale of training, but is the most often misunderstood. Because the steps in collection are shorter, many inexperienced riders try to collect by using the reins to shorten the strides.

This, of course, is completely wrong. The shorter steps of true collection come about by changing the horse’s balance so that his steps become taller, which results in them covering less ground, i.e. becoming shorter.

In the process of collecting the horse, his frame will also shorten as a result of his hindlegs moving more forward beneath his body (engagement) and lifting his forehand, all of which is only possible if the earlier scales – and his strength – are well enough developed.

Understanding more about what collection actually means, in a physical sense, is key to understanding how to create it.

What exactly IS collection?

The FEI states collection is when:

“More intensive bending of the hind legs leads to the centre of gravity being shifted further backwards. This results in the increased lightness of the forehand.

The steps and strides become shorter, but activity/impulsion is sustained and makes the horse’s movement appear more cadenced.”

Courtesy of “DRESSAGE: A Guideline for Riders and Judges” by Wolfgang M. Niggli

Put simply, collection is contained power. The rider must generate energy and impulsion from the hindquarters, while employing a momentary soft restraining contact followed by a release – in other words, a half halt. A series of several short half halts, rather than one or two longer ones, will help develop a more sustained collection.

Continue reading “7 steps to using the Scales of Training: #6 COLLECTION”