Beware of Training Programs Advertising “Collection” Training!
Anyone who advocates teaching collection will be apt to turn your horse into a mental and physical trainwreck.
Collection is a R E S U L T of all the steps and stages of the Training Scale or Training Pyramid having been mastered (see picture), not something you play with with riders or horses that aren’t physically (and mentally) ready!
- Without Rhythm, Suppleness and an elastic and alive Contact a horse can’t go through its back.
- Without going through its back and working in front of the rider’s leg there won’t be any Impulsion.
- Without Impulsion there is no Suspension and no ground cover.
- Without Suspension the horse cannot engage, sufficiently lower its quarters to start carrying its own and its rider’s weight. – It will lack both Balance and physical strength.
Collection is the Crown of Riding that Cannot be Forced.
- Collection is not the expression of a meek horse. – It is quasi its most powerful Lion’s Roar!
- Collection has nothing to do with holding back and making the horse short or small (compressing) and slow.
- Collection has everything to do with becoming more powerful, uphill and active.
This is why only the 6th and highest step of the classical and proven training scale or pyramid is “Collection.”
So, how do you know Collection is faulty?
- losses in rhythm (irregular steps or one leg/legpair raising more)
- losses in suppleness (resisting longitudinal bend e.g. in corners)
- losses in contact (coming above or behind the vertical)
- losses in impulsion (losing suspension)
- losses in straightness (stepping out)
Hands away from collection!
Once all the other five steps are in place, given sufficient physical strength, the horse will start offering to engage and collect all at once. It will even be playing with it. Most importantly, correct collection is achieved by greater rider self-carriage and lightness, and strictly from the rider’s seat and legs, not her hands.
That’s when dressage in the sense of gymnastic work (rather than drilling) will become exciting for both rider and horse.
copyright Rivkah Roth DO DNM
Dr. Rivkah Roth is the founder of Equiopathy and a natural health practitioner, lecturer and author with over five decades in the saddle as a correction rider (Swiss National License LMS since 1968) and many hours as a National Grand Prix and FEI C dressage judge. Student successes include professional coaches on five continents (incl. CDN/EC I to III, ISR I to III, Dutch 3rd Level Instructor, USA, AUS), 1986 Dressage World Championships alternate (CDN), 1986 National GP Kuer Champion (CDN), 1992 Barcelona Olympics Longlist 3-Day (CDN), 2002 Young Horse Dressage World Championships – Verden/GER (ISR), World Cup and WEG dressage horse (CDN), many Nat. and Provincial Champions all levels (CDN / ISR / SUI).