So the topic today is… roundness and collection.
Collection does not only makes your horse look super fancy, but it also is a helpful and beneficial exercise to your horse. Basically, the horse softens their neck, allowing them to round their neck. I have been recently working with Sky on this exercise and I have been using many different techniques and tips that I have learned along the way to help her.
Once your horse is able to round and collect, you will start to notice that your horse will become soft and the roundness position will soon become natural. Today, I want to give you 3 tips that I feel are beneficial to getting your horse to collect and round. Remember, that if you haven’t been constantly practicing this with your horse, it might take a while before the horse finds it natural. It will take time, but eventually you and your horse will get it. Enjoy the tips!
Tip #1 – Have Soft Hands
Having soft hands is a key factor of collection and rounding. I believe that having soft hands is an important tip to becoming a better horse rider. I always imagine having soft hands as holding two eggs in my hands. When I am riding, I shouldn’t be squeezing the eggs hard or else, obviously, they will break. I also don’t want to be holding the eggs loosely or else they will fall out of my hands. So, you want to be able to create that balance between holding too tight and holding too loose. Using your legs and thighs, will also force you to have soft hands. Squeezing with your thighs is an important factor of getting your horse to collect or round.
Also, when developing soft hands, you don’t want to have your hands bouncing in the saddle or too far forward on your horse’s neck. You want to place your hands about an inch from the pommel of your saddle and keep them in the same place the entire time. I challenge you to have someone video tape you riding so you can clearly see if your hands are in the correct position or if they are bouncing and pulling.
Tip #2 – The Squeeze and Release Technique
This a great technique that I have learned that has definitely helped me to enable my horse learn to collect and round.
So basically, this technique is composed of 3 parts. The first part is to squeeze your inside rein (do NOT pull) by tightening your hand and fingers. Then, release the inside rein and squeeze your outside rein by doing the exact same thing. Then the last step is to squeeze both reins and release. Make sure that when you squeeze both reins you are not pulling and you are keeping your hands in the exact same position. When you release, you don’t want to let go of your reins all together. Instead, you want to simply open your fingers. You will see your horse start to drop his/her head and respond to the pressure. Every single time you ride, make sure to do this exercise and eventually you will definitely see an improvement in your horse.
Tip #3 – Don’t Force It
Now this is a very important tip to remember! What I mean by don’t force it, is basically don’t expect results right away or the minute you practice. Don’t force the results because, again, it will take time. As humans, we want to see progress instantly. When working with our horses, we have to have patience and wait for the progress to happen. This doesn’t mean that your horse is going to take forever to grasp this concept. Some horses are super fast learners and others take a while to understand what you are asking. We don’t want to force collection on our horses because we want it to become a natural position for them instead of something that isn’t comfortable for them. So remember, when you are working with your horse… have patience!
I hope that you found these tips helpful! Again, this will take time and don’t feel you have to work on this skill for 1 hour. Even 20 minutes working with your horse on rounding could be very beneficial! Every horse learns differently and we have to be willing to adjust our training skills to their way of learning and understanding. If you have any questions about rounding or want to talk about this further, send me a quick email and I would love to chat with you! Until next time… don’t forget to hug your horse!