Canter, Gallop, riding positions and collection
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Author:  Bryan [ Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Canter, Gallop, riding positions and collection

Hi all,

Ok you can sit a canter and ride it in two point. My little experience thus far indicates that you normally sit the canter in the arena unless you are jumping and you would move into two point for the jump then move back to the seated canter after the jump and you manoeuvre into position for the next jump.

When you are out riding and cantering do you use a mixture of two point and seated canters and gallops? I understand that when turning etc you are better seated as you are more stable than up in two point but well ridden two point I believe is easier for the horse. I also understand you have better control of the horse seated.

Also what do people do when they are out galloping - ride it mainly in two point? seated like canter? I'm interested in peoples input here.

The another item I'd like to hear some views on is collection. Looking at manuscripts from late medieval there are lots of sketches showing situations when the horses are collected and uncollected. So far the goal has been to keep the horse collected. Is there times you want to or need to loose collection?

And finally I know rising trot was not a technique used in medieval times but what about two and three point. Were they used back then? I would think that from a Calvary or armoured Knight etc everything would be seated, even the gallop. Yes? However when not fully armoured and riding into combat would they have used two point at time in canter and gallop? Two point when jumping?

Author:  BeritB [ Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:02 pm ]
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I have no idea of how or which type of seat was used in canter in medieval times, but in answer to your other question on trekking, I at leat vary between a deep seat in canter, and rising or using a light seat. It depends entirely in the terrain and the type of work. We have a lot of hills around our stables and even a small river. Cantering uphill I always use a light seat. Cantering in the forest, I vary between a deep and a light seat depending on how wide the path is and if we're doing quick turns in between or around trees. I use a ligt seat if we canter in the river or on the riverbanks, but sit between small obstacles if we're som lucky to find a path with some windfalls, trees that the wind has been kind enough to break and make obstacles for us with.

I use a light canter seat more than a deep canter seat, but that is mainly because we are fortunate enough to have good forest-terrain and steep hills ringt outside the stable doors, which makes trekking out a lot of fun for both horse and rider. We aldro have some hills that are steep enough to give the horse a great workout simply climbing them at walk, and I use a fairly light seat then too.

Author:  Bryan [ Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:04 pm ]
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Hi When you talk of a light seat - is this three point? Or something inbetween three point and seated?


Author:  BeritB [ Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:39 pm ]
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Something in between, I guess. I try and unload my weight as much as possible without losing control of the horse. I sort of try and remain in contact with the saddle but think that I should only have one tenth of my weight on the horses back. When climbing, I use a lighter seat, much allike to how I "sit" when I'm jumping an obstacle. I've never had any intstruction on how to ride when trekking, so I just go by how the horse feels and if the animal seems happy with the work. I try to not get "in front of the horse" though, and to keep my shoulders behind the horses shoulders or alligned with them, otherwise we lose balance.

When trekking I still want to be able to control the horse with my weight, to avoid simply pulling at the reins. In our sort of terrain it could be potentially dangerous to steer a horse by the reins alone, as the hindlegs need to be engaged for the horse to keep its balance.

Going downhill, i sit back and sometimes lean back a bit if the hill is steep, in order to keep my body aligned to the ground. Otherwise the horse will fall forwards on its shoulders and lose balance. I have, mind you, not cantered downhill on purpose yet. I prefer to take it slow and steady going down, as I am not yet balanced enough to give the horse free movement.

My worst challenge so far, was when I was on top of a barefot horse in winter, and we found ourselves on steel hard ice, covered by an inch of wet snow... I remember thinking that I had to sit as still as I could and remain in balance as best I could, or we would slide and fall together, the horse and I. Not wanting to have 400 kilos on top of me proved motivation enough and we made it to safe ground. When that happened, I focused on remaining deep in the saddle and relax as best I could without letting go of my core. But that was a unique situation where I had to make myself as small a part of the goings on as I could and give the horse maximum freedom to find his legs and regain balance. kinda funny though - imagine that you're actually riding Bambi when he finds the ice...

Author:  Bryan [ Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:40 am ]
Post subject: 

I would like to focus this discussion on to collection. Remember I have only been riding since February and I had a couple of months out due to my school closing and having to find a new school.

I admit that my understanding of collection etc is going to be pretty thin at the moment and some errors too lol.

I am about to start focusing on collection at my next lesson on Saturday but as per normal I can't wait and also want to get as much a jump start as I can.

I will start with where my current understanding is and it is mainly from observation and a little bit of a discussion over a cup of tea.

When the horse is collected the horse is balanced with the weight and power on and from the hind quarter. The horse is drawn in to a smaller more compact frame with the back arching up rather than sagging. In this position the horse carries weight better and is less likely to damage their back. I also observed that it appears that the movement in the seat is smoother and easier to follow than when the horse is uncollected.

Watching a horse trotting and cantering around an arena in both collected and uncollected to me it looks tidier collected with the corners appearing to be sharper and deeper than when ridden uncollected. I was seeing this as the rider having better control of the horse when collected but Luke (can't wait till Luke and Henrikke are here) has already corrected that saying the rider should have the same level of control of the horse whether collected or uncollected.

So it is not a matter of more control but is it a matter of the horse being more Maneuverable in the collected state rather than a matter of rider control?

Is extended trot uncollected?
Is running on the forequarter even less collected than extended?

It looks like in general there are distinct advantages in having the horse in the collected gait. Could someone give me some examples when it would be desirable to have the horse with low or no collection?

Hope this makes sense. I know that it will make more sense as I start doing some work on this in lessons specifically and I know Luke and Henrikke will be here in 4 weeks but I'm trying to advance as much as I can before Knights School so anything I can grasp before this the better.

Author:  BeritB [ Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:16 am ]
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Collection is a big subject :)

First of all, we need to differentiate between true collection and false collection. If a horse is truly collected, the horse engages from behind and over the back, with the back swinging. If a horse is falsely collected, the back sags and the legs are thrown forward in an overly tense way. But it's not always easy to see the difference unless you know what you're looking for. Even Dr. vet. med. Gerd Heuscmann states that dressage judges need to educate themselves so that they can differentiate between a "back mover" (true collection) and a "leg mover" (false collection).

If a horse is running on it's forequarters, the horse is not collected at all. It does not matter how arched the neck is or how tight the horse is in the front: If a horse is on the forequarters, the horse is not collected.

A properly ridden extendet trot, is a collected gait. In extended trot the horse engages massively from behind and over the back.
Passage is more collected than extended trot, and piaffe is the maximum of collection in trot. The least collected trot (where we can still talk about collection at all) is the normal working trot.

A collected horse is always more maneuverable than an uncollected
horse. However, you can only collect a horse so much, relative to the animals strength and level of education. If you try and collect a horse too much before the horse is strong enough, the animal will "collapse" at some point in the spine (neck and/or back + lumbar area), and you end up with false collection. A tell tale sign of false collection is always that the movement in the forequarters is bigger than in the hindquarters. Sometimes, you even see horses so "collected" in the front that the hindlegs just trail helplessly behind. .

Author:  Luke Binks [ Wed Oct 07, 2009 7:57 pm ]
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Personally i have a lot of trouble trying to define and describe collection without pictures. So im going to send you a couple of images i have describing collection and i would suggest having a read from this web site I thought the site had a good description and good illustrations.

But you came to the right place Bryan as i know there are people here that are amazing at describing this sort of thing! The Answer to all your questions are probably already on this forum, just not in English :?

Author:  Bryan [ Wed Oct 07, 2009 9:51 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thank BeritB and Luke,

I know as I start learning to do it at my lesson on Saturday it will start to make more sense and when you get here Luke both at the clinic and over coffee and ports we can talk about it.

The horse I'm riding, Rocky ( TB) is well trained and fit and Liz says he does collect well. I believe horses to collect need training as does the rider.

I do over analyse and ask lots of questions when sometimes a little patience and the answers will come :D

I just want to be as ready as I can for your clinic.

Could someone tell we when you would choose not to ride with collection? What sort of things would you be doing where collection wouldn't help or would be undesirable?


Author:  BeritB [ Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:20 pm ]
Post subject: 

Yes. When rehabilitating horses, you don't collect the horse but keep the animal "long and low", stretching forward and into the bit, with your hands open so as to allow maximum room for the hindlegs to extend under the horse and begin to take weight.

And since collection is the very last step of the education-scale, you first need to ensure that the horse has achieved all the previous steps. So you do not collect a young horse.

You also start each riding lesson like this, allowing the horse to stretch down and forward and into the bit, to ensure that the horse begins to use its back properly. And you finish each lesson in the same way: Working the horse long and low, the nose a bit in front of the vertical and gently chewing the rein longer, until the horse is able to strech the whole topline.

It is of utmost importance that the horse is allowed to find it's balance at the beginning of a lesson, as the horse's natural balace is disrupted by the rider on it's back. We do this by riding the horse long and low (or long and deep, which must never be confused with Laag Rond Deep or LRD, perhaps better known as "Rollkur") and stretching the outside hand until the horse begins working through the back (topline). Remember that you can only collect a horse so much, depending on the strength of the animal. If a horse does not yet have the backmuscles needed for collection, nor well enough developed hindquarters, you do not collect the horse at all but focus on stretching the horse down and forwards. This work strenghtens the muscles in the topline and the hindquarters, and with time and patience you work the horse towards collection.

In order to collect, the horse must first have mastered the previous levels in the education scale. Only a well educated, correctly trained and evenly strong horse is able to work in true collection. With even I mean that both sides of the horse must be equally strong and flexible. When a horse is evenly strong on both hands, we say that the horse is "Straight". A horse must be "straight" to be able to really collect. But there are steps to be mastered before the horse can reach "straight".

The steps are:
Contact and accept of the bit

You will find something on the subject here too, in english:


You can also read the articles on They're very good. You'll find answers to most of your questions there.

Author:  Bryan [ Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thank you BeritB - I Love you lol... that really touched the spot. With the material Luke has provided, you last post and link.. I will digest and prepare mentally for my lesson on Saturday.

Luke - Knights school... BRING IT ON mate!!

Author:  tinuviel [ Sun Oct 18, 2009 10:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

I am bit late here, but I thought I would leave a few comments.

I don't have much to add on collection, but there are at lest one more instance where collection would not be much help and that it in long treks. Collection would demand too much energy of the horse if it needs to be out working the whole day. It is is some way the same thing as Berit talked about: that you should not demand more collection of the horse than it is strong enough to sustain. That is probably why Western riding don't have much collection - at least in my limited experience. The horse should be balanced, but that is not the same as collection.

I was taught by my old teacher that you should use the two-point seat (like you'd use in jumping) riding both up-hill and down-hill. I think I've read that as well, and looking at eventers I see them use that seat down-hill as well, so I think it fits.

The two-point seat is a fairly recent development, so the knights would not have used it. Also the saddles they used are not easy to even post at the trot in, and two-point is even worse, so I would dismiss that seat.

Author:  Bryan [ Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:03 am ]
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Hi All, Seasons greetings and all that.

Berit, Just spent some time re-reading that excellent post of yours here. Few more lessons and more horse time and found I am getting much more out of it then when I read it last time. I thought I had understood it previously but with more knowledge and riding now I find it is deeper than I originally realised.

I am being switched between different horses at the moment to work me more and have been riding an Arab called Sultan at the moment. Primarily to work on the head down long and low. As you would guess the Arab is not head down long and low by nature - he is more inclined to have is head high almost wacking you in the teeth ( not quite but think you got the picture).

I'm I there yet? NO! haha.. but I'm on the journey. Last lesson on Sultan I was learning to use the outside rein to do almost everything ( steer, drop and to some extent collect) and really only using the inside rein for inflexion and a bit of sponging. I have been shown that when you have the horse low and long, and hopefully soft, you can use sponging on reins ( sometimes just the inside and sometimes on both depending on what you are trying to do ) to invite the horse to collect.

Sultan is not currently educated nor muscled up for true collection so I'm training him as well as learning myself. It is interesting. I have had a few nice moments where he as been low and long and I have been able to gather him towards collection whilst keeping him soft on the reins. Felt his back lift and the rear engage. It is hard work for him though so not able to hold it too long.

As I said getting so much more out of that post of yours.

The other thing I have been doing is starting on the 20metre then spiralling in to a 10 metre and then spiralling back out trying to keep straight with the right amount of inflexion. Messy and challenging for me at the moment.

Sultan is also not straight - I understand this term now :D So I'm having to work him more on his right side side at trot to strengthen and get better flexibility however for some strange reason at canter its is left lead that sucks a little. - Do you see that often in horses where the problems shift from left to right between gaits?

Apparently I will be going back on Rocky the TB for a few lessons then finally on to Flash which is the most educated horse there and has the fitness and eduction to collect to try out my new skills.

Thats where I'm at. Any comments of the use of reins and sponging etc. most welcome :D

Hope you all have a great 2010. Remember I am on Facebook too and there are photos there and I post new sets there from time to time when I get to do something new or major progress etc.


Author:  Hanne [ Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:33 am ]
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Luke Binks wrote:
But you came to the right place Bryan as i know there are people here that are amazing at describing this sort of thing! The Answer to all your questions are probably already on this forum, just not in English :?

Dang, you are so right, Luke. We really should translate some of the stuff on this site. Shit, we tried Google's translator to translate some text from Netherlands yesterday, and it turned out some understandable and some gibberish. Lots of room for misunderstandings on such delicate topics as riding..

But basically, it seems you are getting very good instruction, Bryan. Your comments are good and correct as far as I can see. But I understand that you would like to read theory as well, it's a very wise thing to do.

Have you read "Riding Logic" by Wilhelm Müseler? It's a good one on this topic.


Author:  Bryan [ Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:57 am ]
Post subject: 

Over the last few weeks I have been working with another horse, Sultan as a typical Arab horse is different to ride then Rocky (TB) and he is also less educated so making me as a rider work harder. Liz's prime reason for this was really two fold.. one with head down and collection exercises I had to be a lot clearer with my aids as being an arab he likes his head high and tail out. The second is she felt it would help me develop my independent seat as he is no where near as straight or consistent as Rocky.

I had a great lesson today when a lot of things just clicked and now able to not only get Sultan long and low at walk at trot but also collect in to a frame lifting in the rear engaging the power house. Have not started taking any of this to canter yet.

Also the last two lessons after the 1.5 hour lessons I have taken the saddle off and started to ride bareback. I'm starting another topic now on bareback riding.

I would like to thank all those who have posted in this forum - it has been a great help.


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