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Collection problems: Check the neck!

By LES VOGT - Horsetrader columnist - May 16th, 2013 - More with Les

43rd in a series
After sharing insight on components of collection last issue, Les points out cause and effect of key obstacles.

In my clinics I run into a lot of horses that are fairly advanced but often they have got a hole in them. And the common problem and the common fix are going to be the same and it’s the neck. Often times these horses have an attitude in certain places. Every now and then they decide to rebel, to defy you. And what area of the horse shows defiance first? The neck! If it stiffens up, it’s the first signal that you are about to go for a ride that you’re not asking for.

So, before you can have what you want in terms of performance, you have to have the neck. Defiance is caused by an attitude, and an attitude can happen with horses just like people. But it’s got to be like someone in the military, if you have an attitude you’d better keep it to yourself, and that’s the way I feel about a horse. They all have different mindsets, but if they have an “attitude,” let’s overcome it by insisting that we get respect from them.

The next thing that I see are horses that are heavy in the mouth. I want to make sure that you understand that collection, where we are speeding up the back legs and slowing the front legs down, isn’t a manual thing; you don’t just do it with your hands. It’s more like having power brakes on the front legs, so that you can slow them down with just your little finger, with the reins still flopping, and then still being able to ride your horse hard up from behind.

Now for most of you, this means that you have to create a lighter feel in your horse’s mouth and you’re probably thinking, “Sure. Now what? How do I do it?”

I’ll tell you, I actually get more effect in as far as lightening a horse up, with my legs than with my hands. I can kick for lightness, and or use my spur for lightness, I think, better than I can just go to work with my hands for it. Yet sometimes that’s a hard concept for people to grasp because they get so fixated on the head and neck carriage. So you will find that using your legs takes over 50% of the effort out of creating a horse that is lighter in the bridle, and it creates a more lasting impression.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More with Les is a regular California Horsetrader column. Les Vogt has won more than 15 World Championships, including two wins at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity. Although Les still rides and occasionally shows, his focus is giving clinics around the world and developing products for the performance horseman. To learn more about Les and to see his clinic schedule, visit: www.lesvogt.com

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