- November 22, 2017
- Savanna Simmons
Jenn Zeller, The South Dakota Cowgirl, explained collection really well in a three-part series in 2015. I would encourage you to read all three parts in addition to what I’m about to share with you. My hope is that they can provide you with a fresh and better understanding of what collection is and how to achieve and use it.
I believe it was Jack Brainard who explained collection to me best. Go figure, right? But first, I must preface this post with the statement that for a lot of years I went about collection really wrong. I probably still don’t have it right, but I’m closer. As a teenager, I was told that during drill team my horse should be collected through the whole routine and there was no reason he couldn’t. Well, suffice to say he was collected the entire time. Kind of.
I had him in what I call a “superficial collection”. I only had collection of his head, poll, and neck, but it didn’t reach any further back of my saddle. Why does that matter? It didn’t really affect our performance. It looked pretty, but in using my horse and stretching him to his potential, he didn’t engage through his back or hind end and use them to their full ability.
So going back to Jack. He said to pretend there is a string attached to your reins that loops up along the line of the bridle, down the neck, along the back, loins, and down, down through the stifle and hocks, and into the hind feet. (See above.) Now, when pulling your reins, your horse should pull like a drawstring back, rounding out the backline and engaging his hind end and pulling it up under him.
Horses can definitely operate all strung out, and sometimes, it advantages them to do so. Consider a horse long-trotting with miles to eat up. If they are collected and taking shorter, more-gathered strides, they aren’t going to get there quicker. It also takes that strung out horse a little longer sometimes to get shut down at the stop or turn back quickly since they have to gather up first.
For a horse that you are asking to do advanced, specific, or difficult maneuvers, it helps them along to have proper, full-body collection. If he is collected, his whole body is at the ready and will be at its most agile and athletic.
About Savanna Simmons
I'm Savanna Simmons and I live north of Lusk, Wyoming, on the Four Three Ranch with my husband Boe and our sons, Brindle and Roan. I grew up evolving my horsemanship with clinicians like Ray Hunt, Joe Wolter, and Jack Brainard, but not within a...