As Abbey has learnt to relax and now approached questions quietly and without fighting or rushing our RI says we can take the next steps….collection.

We’re aiming to start competing at Novice next year and collection is how we’re going to teach Abbey to use her back end more. The plan is then to use this new-found power to ‘push us’ into our medium trot.

She explained that if we were to try to get a medium trot without collecting first, we’d end up running, something we’ve only just taught Abbey not to do!

The exercises we’re using are:

  1. Poles at 12, 3, 6 & 9

With a small circle in the middle, the poles are laid out with 4/5 stride in between.  We work our way around them in canter. Once Abbey has got into a rhythm, we come inside the poles on a small circle.

I sit up and slightly back, lift my hands and with my inside leg ‘there’ and ready to ask her to maintain the canter I ask her to slow.

I’m starting to ‘get’ the feeling when Abbey lifts her shoulders and brings her hind quarters into action….I think….

Here’s a clip of one our first attempts:


2. Spiraling out (leg yield)

Starting on a 10-15m acround X, circle out, making sure that she’s leg yielding properly (crossing her back legs and not falling out through her shoulder).  This makes Abbey use her inside hind. Once I feel that she’s really engaged that inside hind to get across to the larger, outer circle, I go large and ask for the trot transition. Once straight and balanced, I ‘give’ with my hands and ask a little more with legs. At this point we should be covering more ground but not trotting any faster…..well, that’s the theory, anyway!


We’re also using exercises to correct another weakness – Abbey continues to avoid inside bend on the left rein.  It’s a strange problem because on a small circle, in walk and in canter she’s fine.  But in trot and through the transitions she’ll bend to the outside.

Desperate to correct her, I’ve got into a cycle of trying too hard, over-using my inside leg and hand, and getting into a battle.

Instead, we’re using a little leg yield on circles and serpentine loops to ‘free’ the inside shoulder that she’s currently ‘stuck’ on and using to block the bend. Ever since learning leg-yield she’s been willing to do it so we’re using this to our advantage. It’s starting to work. As and when she does loose it, a small circle normally gets us going in the right direction again.