At David's recco. on the esi forum, I read your blog about collection - I've also attended a talk you gave last spring at equineaffaire, and attended Dave's saddle-fitting seminar in ShadowHills CA in April, before we came east for the summer. Anyway I'm hoping you can answer this question for me (if it's answerable, in words): You say:"Collection to me is working from the back to the front of a horse. This when astride means I work from the center of the horse first when asking for it. By this I must be in a centered, balanced position with an open pelvis and ask the abdominal muscles to lift up to me through my pelvis and leg aids. This in turn raises the loins of the horse , engages the pelvis ,while opening up the hind quarters of the horse to reach well under its self, and raising the spine upward. This puts the horse in that desired weight bearing posture." I fully understand , and of course agree with, the philosophy - and the emotion, mental, and also physical preparation we need to give our horses. My question: When you say "ask the abdominal muscles to lift up to me through my pelvis and leg aids..." please, could you possibly say a little, just in practical terms, about what the pelvis and legs are actually doing? I mean if that's possible. Thank you.
I’ll do the best I can, it’s fun stuff and we just had a workshop this past weekend working on this very thing. In person it’s easier as I can point out the positive and negative results as they occur. Your pelvis should remain neutral doing nothing if it’s in the proper position it will be level and open. This means NO stirrup pressure. Stirrup pressure tells the spine to drop away. Heels should be level not down or up as these positions also tell the spine to drop away from your pelvis. If your horse responds well to leg aids I’ll roll my legs on to the horse abdominals ( not Lift or bend the legs upward or back or this shifts the riders pelvis). I softly flex my leg muscles in a feathering motion asking the horse to use its abdominals and lift up to my pelvis. It’s a small squeeze release motion of the legs. If the horse holds its abdominals then I make my legs aids quiet. If the horse does not sustain the body position I ask with the legs, then I again engage leg signals again and continue the process until the horse is clear that when I am on his back I want him to have more muscular tension on his underline than his top line all the time when I am on his back. When you can see a line of demarcation along the horses abdominals you know he is engaging his rear end. In my head I’m thinking the words “ too me , too me” This creates a pulling upward energy from my own body the horse hears my intent and raises to it. From astride one can feel the horse lift up to your pelvis and when your rhythm is in time with the horse it feels
like two toilet plungers stuck together, it’s a hooked together feeling and you flow together in every stride.
Not sure if this helps any but it is hard to describe the feel but easy to say the mechanical aids used to achieve something. Liz