Waffle is a cross between a Quarter Horse and a type of Draft known as a Belgian -- hence the
name (Belgian) Waffle. She reigns as queen of the pasture. Don't dare try to give another horse a
carrot without taking one along for her. If you do, she'll run all the other horses off and grab the
She also hates for the shutters on her stall to be closed. If she hears you coming with food and the
shutter is closed, she'll knock it open and knock you over with the force of a gale wind.
Under saddle, she has evasions down to a science. She's figured out very well what the rider will
and will not allow, and she'll test you at every turn. She'll make you want to drop riding and take up
golf. But then, miraculously, she'll give you a beautiful ride. Her fantastic conformation makes her
a very smooth mount. Why does she behave like this? She's really a very talented horse, but
Collection: On the Bit
One the bit, or collection, can best be described as a posture. It involves getting the horse into a
posture that will better enable us to direct her. Learning collection is so important to advancing
your riding skills that I'm going to describe it a couple of different ways to make sure you
First, consider how much a person's posture can reveal. We can all spot lazy people. Their
shoulders slump, their eyes are dull, they have little interest in their surroundings, and, if you ask
them to do something, they drag their feet. Compare that to people who hold their shoulders back,
look alert, show interest in their surroundings, and have a spring in their step. They are ready to
meet the next challenge.
The same is true with horses. So what posture do you want Waffle to have? You want her
standing proud, with a twinkle in her eye. You want her interested in her surroundings and ready
to move forward. That's collection.
Another way to describe collection involves agility. Take that most agile of animals, the cat. Why
can a cat jump to a kitchen countertop? Because his anatomy is such that by rounding his back,
he can put his back feet in front of his front feet. The horse, of course, can't put her back feet in
front and spring onto a counter, but the more rounded her back, the more agile she becomes.
Is Collection Always Necessary?
Collection is always necessary to some degree, because it facilitates greater control.
There's a rule in riding: The horse must always be between your hands and your legs. This
means that if you ever cease using your hands, the horse should immediately and minutely move
ahead faster; should you stop using your legs, the horse should immediately and minutely slow
down. If this doesn't happen, you're not in sufficient control.
Further along in the book you'll learn how greater degrees of collection come into play. For now,
start noticing the difference between a collected horse and one that isn't. To collect Waffle, ask her
to round her back. Set your hands and drive her with your legs into your hands. In this instance,
Waffle becomes a shorter package, because the energy you're asking her for can't be projected
forward. It must go somewhere, so it becomes contained, or collected, and Waffle assumes a more
agile posture, with her hind legs tracking farther underneath her and carrying more weight.
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