Learning collection, one stride at a time

It’s been a while already that I introduced Dandy to vertical flexion and engagement of the hindquarters, also known as “collection”. He picked up the idea pretty quickly, and since it was introduced gradually (and he was excellent at lateral flexion already) it wasn’t too big of a deal. The current situation is that I will pick him up for one stride, release, then hold him two strides, release, then three, release. Then I let him trot or lope a little ways totally free, until picking up again one, two, then three strides. Of course, “picking up” the reins is way from being the main component of collection. That’s the visible part of it, but not the core of the move. The main element is *pushing* the horse’s rear end into its front end, literally “shortening” the horse up (now the word “collection” makes full sense, doesn’t it ?).

Dandy04Sept16-01For the third time in a row he’s now being tacked up, and untacked, in the barn aisle, in the cross ties, like a grown-up. Funny how that sorted itself out. I *knew* that he wouln’t have been ready for that any earlier, which is why I kept on preparing him to be ridden always in the arena, ground tying (he’s pulled back and torn up a wall ring on two occasions before, so from then on I’d just slip the rope through the ring and let it hang there, totally lose). And when I felt he could cope with the claustrophobia of the barn aisle, its noises, clutter, and being cross tied, I just went ahead and did it. And there was zero issue. Sometimes you just have to “outwait” potential problems and just not giving them opportunities to happen, and once the horse is educated enough in other areas, stuff is ok just like magic (and yes, this is a more generic, global application of good timing). Oh, and did I mention we now totally “own” the arena gate opening/closing ? 😉

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