Many riders in their quest for perfection can misinterpret what collection means which results in False Collection.

True Collection

Collection is the final stage in the German Training scale and can only be achieved when previous stages have been mastered.

Stage 1 – Rhythm

Stage 2 – Looseness

Stage 3 – Contact

Stage 4 – Impulsion

Stage 5 – Straightness

Stage 6 - Collection

When a horse is correctly collected, the horse is relaxed and his hind quarters are engaged bearing more weight which enables the neck and forehand to be more elevated which presents uphill, rhythmic and impulsive movement. See Figure 1 – Illustration of True Collection.


False Collection

False Collection often results from horses being pushed too quickly to present in an arched neck frame. Injury, overdue teeth, hoof and conformational issues may also contribute to False Collection. False Collected horses are tense and therefore dip and hollow their backs to avoid back pain. These horses tend to have their heads jammed under and feature an overdeveloped under neck muscle.

False Collected horses:

  • Have ongoing back tension and reduced spinal rotation and are likely to be quite saddle sore
  • Tend to have little topline and are likely to eventually end up with Muscle Atropy (muscle wastage), weak hindquarters, Sacroiliac joint problems and a future sway back posture
  • Tend to be very resistant to aids and are very heavy on the forehand.
  • They tend to lean on the reins and are generally unwilling to move forward when they are held
  • When they are given more rein they tend to grab and run
  • Constantly swish their tails and pin their ears back showing their discomfort
  • Are over developed in their under neck

Draw Reins and tying horses down is a significant contributor to False Collection. These aids fail to ever achieve a relaxed back which will never achieve True Collection.

(Illustrations courtesy Danielle Nielsen)

Please feel free to Download ASFA Fact Sheet - Is False Collection hurting your horse?