© 2006 Cherry Hill www.horsekeeping.com
Collection is a state of balanced energy. A horse that is
collected will have a dropped croup, engaged hindquarters, flexed abdominals,
arched spine, and elevated head and neck, and a flexed poll. When a horse works
in collected gaits, he is working at the same tempo as the working gait but he
will have a shorter, more elevated stride and will cover less ground than a working
After a year or more under saddle, signs that it is
time to work on collection will begin appearing. There will be a marked differentiation
of frame - just how marked will depend on the intended use of your horse. If destined
for dressage, the horse should be encouraged to elevate the poll, drop the croup
considerably and increase the flexion of the joints of the legs.
such a configuration is not the goal for many pleasure horses or hunters, their
goal would be for a more level frame with moderate engagement. However, in any
case, the horse should still be allowed to carry his nose at about 10 to 15 degrees
in front of the vertical. The horse should show self carriage a great deal of
the time by the time he has been ridden regularly for a year or so.
more advanced stages of collection, the horse has an extremely shortened underline
and a rounded, stretched topline with an overall shortened frame from nose to
tail. The poll should still be the highest point of the neck and the nose would
be carried somewhere near the vertical or about five degrees in front of the vertical.
The horse should be able to demonstrate self carriage at almost any time when
the inside rein or perhaps even both reins are released.
type of frame is appropriate for upper level dressage horses and can be a goal
for a reining or western equitation horse. Unfortunately, some horses have the
collected configuration forced upon them in front via the bridle but have not
had the essential collection developed behind, therefore do not exhibit true,
In order to maintain equilibrium, a collected
horse assumes a posture or framework in accordance with the horizontal and vertical
components of a maneuver, the speed of a maneuver, and the placement and movement
of the rider. Extended maneuvers are characteristically more horizontal while
collected maneuvers are more vertical in nature. In spite of what it may seem,
the horse's top line is actually the longest when it is in a collected frame due
to the stretching of the back muscles. The gathered and compacted frame of a collected
horse gives the illusion of a shortened top line.
the hindquarters are converted from a driving force to more of a supporting force
depending on the rider's regulatory aids. If a 1275 pound horse carries 175 pounds
of rider and tack, he distributes the 1450 pound total weight differently for
various maneuvers. Such a horse with a level top line and average balance and
with virtually no influence exerted from the rider would, while standing, bear
at least 405 pounds on each foreleg and 320 or less with each hind leg.
the horse performs in a more collected frame, the hindquarters are required to
bear an increasingly greater proportion of the load until, in the levade (a very
balanced, controlled low rear) and during moments in the piaffe, where forward
movement is minimal, each hind leg may bear 725 pounds. The horse collects by
raising the head and neck above the body's mass, contracting the abdominals and
associated muscles, and flexing both hocks with the hind feet placed well under
When lengthening of a movement is desired, the
goal is a greater distance covered per stride, not an increase in rate or tempo.
Actually, in the transition to a lengthening, the tempo must be initially slowed
to allow for the increased engagement of the hind limbs in order to result in
a true increase in the length of stride.
A collected horse
moves in balance and is smooth and easy to ride. All riding horses should be introduced
to a degree of collection.