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 treat.
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 extremely lazy.
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 understand.
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
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
Is Collection Always Necessary?
Collection is always necessary to some degree, because it facilitates
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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