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Old 08-17-2012, 07:23 AM   #1
Cattleman
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Default Thoughs on Balance

For those near to classic horsemanship, we know that it is all about balance. We are working hard to get a horse balanced. The entire system of thought is geared towards balancing a horse from the front to the back, and from the feet to the mind. To those who aren't involved in classic horsemanship/vaquero style of horsemanship. The term they use is Collection, collection is all about getting a horse balanced to be comfortable and able to perform any function or move. The spade bit is all about making sure the horse is in the proper balance. We as riders must be in proper balance. One of the things that was most difficult for me when starting this method was to ditch my old ways of working off of pressure or contact points and focusing on balance points. In your eyes what are the different balance points on a horse and how to you achieve proper balance with a horse?
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:26 AM   #2
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Very nice comparison of concepts. I would like to see expanded thoughts on "Balance." The use of the "Collection" term seems inconsistent in definition. I prefer to think in terms of "traditional" horsemanship. It has worked for the true Vaqueros for decades.
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Old 09-10-2012, 10:28 AM   #3
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What is inconsistent in the way that I used the term "collection?" I am also not exactly sure what you meant by the contrast with "classic" and "traditional" horsemanship. To me horsemanship is horsemanship, whatever prefix you give it. The horse doesn't know the difference. To expound a little on balance, my prior thinking was based on what areas of the horse I could place pressure in order to achieve the desired result. For instance if I wanted to move the hind quarters around I would push the hind end around with my leg. When I think of it in terms of balance. I want more then just the hind end to wrap around I want him to be able to be flexible in the ribs, which allows his front end to follow. This keeps the horse balanced, so that if we are working a cow and I help the horse move the hind quarters his front end follows and if he needs to jump out, the horse will be properly prepared because he will be in balance. It isn't just about moving the horse around but setting the horse up in a position that he can succeed.
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Old 10-08-2012, 03:40 PM   #4
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Over 40 years ago I was fortunate to get to watch Ray Hunt break range colts for an afternoon. I came away just knowing he was God . . . and with a couple of his axioms that made my life a whole lot easier. At the time, I didn't know he was a "big deal" with a following, but he was a sure enough big deal to me.

'Bout all I knew about handling horses I'd learned in the gutter, by hearsay, and by trial and error . . . mostly error. I'm no "real cowboy", 'cuz I always "married" my horses, and mostly didn't have much trouble once we'd learned each others' ways.

Time came when they grew old and I had to let 'em go, then there was a hiatus in my "horsemanship" as life, kids in college, aging parents and other stuff got in the way of my riding. I'd been "horseless" for about six years before starting a long two year old filly last fall. I got next to a good trainer, whose outlook is pretty much based on the Dorrance Bros, Ray Hunt's and Buck Brannaman's methods, and I learned pretty quick that given the finesse of their understanding, I didn't even know how to ride a horse!

Used to be, with a hold on their face, the critter just had to follow along. These "new" concepts that the reins are connected not to their face, but to their feet, that lateral flexion and suppleness is really important, and that you gotta ride the whole horse have opened up a whole new world for me. My pony's doing right well, and I look back with a certain amount of sadness for the lack of tact and understanding I lacked, going back years and decades.

For my part, "collection" is about the only term from prior experience that jibes with the methods I'm learning to use now . . . it's when those hocks get under you, and kick into drive gear you can feel the balance.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:18 PM   #5
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I don't know why the term collection is so misunderstood. There are different degrees. The classical definition of collection is simple. It assumes the fact that a horse is by nature balanced toward his front end. He carries most of his weight forward of center. That is his natural balance. Supporting the weight of a rider puts even more weight on his front end. In order to get support the rider, the horse must learn to move the center of balance towards his rear end. To do this, the horse must learn, with the help of training and proper riding, to collect himself and re-balance by carrying more weight with his hind end, and elevating the front end. It is more about a horse getting taller iin the back and withers than it is about being compressed. (a horse can be compressed and still be on his front end.) That is in a nut shell the basic classical theory of collection. The rest of it is about how we get there.
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Old 10-09-2012, 04:40 PM   #6
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I think what's misunderstood mostly is how we talk about it . . . take your statement "there are different degrees" (there are, indeed) - it's hard to define our terms so we're all on common ground. I don't disagree with your post, while I don't feel anything I posted prior is contradictory, necessarily . . . it's really tough to talk about something that's so elusive it's best communicated by a horse, when you're in the saddle.
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Old 10-09-2012, 08:00 PM   #7
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Here is what I mean by different degrees. On a a scale of one to ten, ten being the most highly collected you can get (practically sitting down) to the most strung out you can get, one. For most of our work, we will be operating somewhere in-between. I would say that a good working western horse operates most of the time at a 4 or a 5, with moments of 8 or 9s when stopping or turning.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:45 AM   #8
Rex Easley
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Balance to me what this style of riding is all about. I have found that balance begins by finding "Neutral". If you balance a pencil on your finger, neutral is the place where the pencil is level and still. I try to ride my horse the same as balancing a pencil. This balance translates over the entire horse from his head to his feet. I have found that collection is something I no longer concern myself with. I have found that as I ride with balance my horse will develop a carriage of collection on his own. He will begin to strengthen his back and lift his whole being in search of neutral. From day one he will begin to look for neutral, by doing this he will stretch and strengthen without any interference from me. I believe this is the reason it takes so long to get a horse properly into the Spade bit. I think the hackamore and two rein years are mostly all about conditioning an horse slowly to develop the proper carriage needed for sustainability.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:27 PM   #9
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"Sustainability" Now there's a new age term. I am surprised no one has come up with "Sustainable Horsemanship" as a tag line. On second thought, I think someone has. Can't remember who.
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Old 01-02-2014, 07:13 AM   #10
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I was taught that the weight carrying capacity of the hindquarters is develped by slow excerises. And this creates engagement by strenghtening the power of the hindquaters to lift. It is done through relaxation, both lateral and longitudinal bend.
However I think it must be said that in order for a rider to achieve this, he/she must be allowed to learn how to sit a horse properly in perfect balance. And On a trained horse.

Just me two cents worth....

its early morning and I don't have to go out yet.
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