People are often confused about which comes first-extension or collection.

In other words, is it better to extend your horse’s gaits and then ask him to collect? Or should you shorten your horse, and then ask him for more power to extend?

Here’s the “rule”. Collection comes first. Extension develops out of collection.

You “coil the spring of the hind legs” for collection, and then you let that energy express itself over the ground in longer strides for collection.

When collected, your horse should feel like he’s almost boiling over at 211 degrees–ready to take that bubbling over power and express it into an extension if you allow it.
Here are some things to consider when thinking about collection and extension.

1. They both have the same amount of energy. One just has shorter strides, and the other has longer strides. But the calories used are the same in both cases. And the uphill balance is the same in both cases.

2. Think of both collection and extension as “an addition” of power. You “add” hind legs to collect. You “add” hind legs to extend. Don’t think about adding hind legs to extend and then subtracting hind legs to collect.

3. Yes, the frame is shorter when a horse is collected. But that’s just part of the story. Collection refers mainly to the UPHILL BALANCE of the horse and the shifting of the center of gravity back to the hind legs (croup lower than withers and horse carrying more weight on the hind legs).