When the subject of collection in horses comes up, many times you hear people put a great deal of focus on the physical side of it, without putting enough emphasis on the mental side of collection.
Before ever starting to teach physical collection, it's vital for a horse to be able to move on a loose rein, at the speed you choose, at a walk, trot and lope. This builds balance, confidence and responsibility in your horse. If this hasn't been achieved, attempting to teach physical collection will often leave your horse in a much more anxious, claustrophobic frame of mind. He can never be truly balanced and collected if you're still using contact as your main source of control.
Watching someone approach physical collection without mental relaxation in their horse is like watching someone attempt to teach a student to perform a front handspring on a balance beam, when they've never done a front handspring before. Start with the basics, keep the steps in order, and always make sure your horse is properly prepared for what's next.
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