Collection and Feel–Easy ? Difficult? or more like Mysterious? Honestly a little bit of all 3! But to really understand each, let’s explore what each one means. When I google COLLECT the definition is “bring or gather together”. FEEL is defined as “being aware, thru touching”
Depending on the discipline you are referring to Collection and Feel can really hold different meanings. But let’s talk about this with Dressage in mind. In the Dressage Pyramid, COLLECTION is at the top of the pyramid. So that tells us that Rhythm, Relaxation, Connection, Impulsion and Straightness are all criteria that lead up to collection. Now there are different levels of collection. A First Level horse will not show the same degree of collection as a Third Level horse or a Grand Prix Level Horse. When a horse is appropriately collected for the level they are doing the work is way easier. Basically collection with a horse is when their hindquarters start carrying more of the weight, and the horse begins to travel in a more uphill manner. Simple right? I’m sure there are thousands of books or articles out there talking about Collection and how to achieve it and just as many exercises to help us and our horses get there. But how does it Feel, when we achieve that Collection?
A metaphor that often comes to mind concerning Collection and Feel is: Imagine a large ball inside your horse’s body. When you are riding where does that ball seem to be located? If it feels like it’s up in the horses head or neck your horse is probably too much on it’s forehand. Does it feel like that ball is right under you? Then your horse is starting to get more balanced. When you start to feel that ball back in the hindquarters then you are starting to FEEL COLLECTION.
“if it were easy, everyone could do it”. It’s not easy! But totally achievable! The rewards of riding a horse when you can FEEL that COLLECTION is so worth it !! And it’s all about the journey. So enjoy the journey!
If you have other great metaphors to help with feel and collection I’d love to hear them !!