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Alexander Nevzorov Nezvorov Haute Ecole The Horse Crucified and Risen Lidia Nevzorova Horse Revolution Iron-Free Horse
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The Horse Crucified and Risen / Book - The Horse Crucified and Risen (Horse Encyclopaedia) by Alexander Nevzorov

An extract from the chapter Training

The most important point in a horse’s education and training is, of course, the collection.

The collection is that position of a horse’s body which puts it in a certain state of psychological and muscular concentration, total readiness for movement or for focused, absolute immobility.
The external sign of the collection is a powerful bringing its hocks well under its body and elevating the back and flexing the poll.

The internal, infallible sign of the collection can be sensed by the rider (and also during work in hand: it is the concentration of the greater part of a horse’s weight in the hips, the loin and the muscles of the croup.

The collection is the precise quality that the founding fathers of “Haute Ecole” so passionately required from a horse, what they believed (quite correctly) allowed the horse to support a rider on its back without doing any damage to its health.

The movement of a horse carrying a rider without collection breaks its back and cripples the horse. The immense weight of the abdomen and its contents pulls on the spine, which is then additionally burdened by the weight of the rider. Apart from anything else, the collection mobilises the muscles of the abdomen, transferring the responsibility for supporting its weight to them.

It is only a voluntary, natural collection that is valued, not the collection that is produced by urging from behind (with a spur or a whip) and by restraint from the front (by bit, mediacana or cavesson.

The collection must only be voluntary, that is the kind in which at any moment, if the horse should feel pain because the strain on the muscles is too extreme, it can easily emerge from this state by relaxing its neck and the muscles of its back, and even of its hips if it so wishes. A forced collection is crippling. Five minutes of forced collection creates serious problems in the region of the neck, back, spine and crupper, problems which require more than one month of treatment.
Twenty minutes of forced collection makes a horse an invalid for the rest of its life.

In its wild state a horse often collects itself naturally. In a fight between stallions, which takes place for the most part on the hind legs, a horse only gains the freedom to strike its opponent with its forehooves if its croup is well engaged, that is, on condition that it is stable on it hind legs and can easily maintain its balance. (A well exercised Haute Ecole horse must be easily able to perform the easily – i.e., walk five or six steps even under the weight of a rider in his hind legs. Twelve to fifteen steps without a rider.)

It is not possible to be stable and maintain a good balance with outthrust hindquarters, and therefore the hindquarters must be very well engaged under the body. The more thoroughly this is done, the higher (up as far as absolute vertical) the horse can raise itself.

And the higher the horse rises, the greater its superiority in battle, for it becomes possible to strike downwards with the forehooves. In the collection for a duel in the wild, the poll becomes the highest point for two reasons. The head is lowered until the cheeks are pressed against the neck so as to provide cover and protection for the jugular vein, which the opponent always tries to bite through. The head is also lowered in order to achieve the final tightening of a certain general ring of muscles in the body and ensure absolute manoeuvrability and elasticity in the movements of the neck, shoulders and hips.

A stallion attempting to seduce a mare also starts by demonstrating his collection to her.
He does this for several reasons. The collection is an absolute indicator of status. Something like a general’s shoulder straps. A stallion who has never fought and never covered a mare cannot try to impress a young lady with the fabulous development of the straight ventral muscle of his head (m. Rectus capitis ventralis), which is responsible for flexing the atlantooccipital joint and lowering the head. A well-developed occipital region is the sign of an experienced lady-killer and successful fighter.

* * *

An Haute Ecole horse must work in a voluntary collection which results from the horse’s awareness of all the advantages of controlling its own hindquarters and flexing the poll.

The horse, as I have already said, is a quite incredibly intelligent and sensitive creature. It very quickly grasps for itself all the advantages of engaging hind legs and flexing the poll . Everything becomes easy.

Movements that were slack and slouching become brimful with a light, vital energy. The collection is performed quite easily at liberty, but this “ease” is based on two complex factors.

Firstly, you must be able to appeal to a horse’s intelligence, to its phenomenal ability to learn and understand. Secondly, its hind legs, croup and loin must be in at least in as good a condition as they are in a horse living in the wild. A horse living in the wild has abundant opportunity to work freely and energetically with its hindquarters.

* * *

How to teach the collection.

When a horse has been adequately exercised by working on its hind legs and, having gone through the twenty or thirty simplest exercises and it understands its instructor absolutely, then it is ready to be taught the collection.

The horse is “naked”, with only a string on its shoulders. A lunge is attached to the string.

This is only done to ensure that it moves constantly in a perfect circle. A large lunging whip is taken. (By this time, no matter where the horse has come from, no matter how dismal its previous life might be, it should already have understood that neither a switch, nor a whip, nor a lunging whip , nor a stick represent any kind of danger and there is absolutely no need to be afraid of them. It will be excellent if it realises that all these various bits and pieces are simply a part of the friend with whom it plays and exercises.

Even if the horse is not really afraid, but is still even the slightest bit wary of the whip or the lunging whip , then it is still too soon to teach it the collection. The educator asks the horse to make a circle round him in any trot. As a rule the horse does this with a perfectly free head, with its hind quarters extended, clutching at the ground with its forequarters and mincing along.

The goal is to get it to flex its head, raise the poll and neck and begin to propel with its hind legs, acquiring grace, strength and confidence. To do this a whip lash is introduced on the ground behind the horse’s hind legs so that it starts to follow the horse, snaking across the ground.

The horse must either take no notice of it or regard these manipulations with humour. (When I say “with humour” I mean that condition in which, while the horse does not yet understand what its master wants, it starts squinting indulgently and expectantly. At the same time its mood remains very good and it is still enjoying everything.) First and foremost the educator must understand the horse’s condition and mood, its emotional impulses. If the horse does not like what is happening, it will not learn properly. Trying to teach a horse that is angry or exasperated is a sheer waste of time. The basis of training is the ability to give the horse the immense satisfaction of successfully learning and mastering very complex items and elements.
Let us go back to the snaking lunging whip.

After a certain time the tip of the whip lash moves in closer, practically under the hind hooves. The horse begins to feel it, and since it regards the lunging whip as a part of its master, it tries to be gentle, raising its hind feet a little bit higher in order not to step on the lunging whip.
At the same time, the horse does not increase its speed, it maintains the same rate of movement, in which it is assisted by the master clicking his tongue as regularly as a metronome and the very lightest twitching of the thong on its shoulders in time to the tongue-clicking.

The twitching is produced by movements of the lunge. The lunging whip becomes more insistent and its finest part, the very tip, moves in under the horse’s hooves more and more often. The horse raises its hind legs a little higher more and more often – and at some point it propels itself from behind for the first time.

This is a supremely important moment, which should be reinforced with absolutely unbounded expressions of affection. Once this moment (which remains incomprehensible and invisible to any outsider) has taken place, the thong can be removed and the horse allowed to play its favourite, most daring and lively games.

If it likes playing ball, bring in a ball, three balls, ten balls. And play for all you’re worth.
If it likes nata’n’pi, let it launch an attack, it’s up to you to dodge out of the way. The important thing is to celebrate this moment. In any way possible.

The following day, when this gentle nudge from the hind feet is repeated, you should again praise and caress the horse, scratch its withers and give it something, but continue the exercise until the moment when both the horse and you understand that the tip of the lunging whip behind the horse is now perceived as a recommendation to engage with the hindquarter.
When the pushing becomes a habit, the horse will start carrying itself correctly.

And as soon as it starts moving purely “from the rear”, as it is called, its head will naturally assume the correct position. A horse may yield between the atlas and the odontoid, the two upper vertebrae, or sometimes it may not yield its head, but its neck, between the third and fourth vertebrae – there is no absolute rule concerning this.

The goal is not to get the back of the head to yield between the first and second vertebrae, the goal is to make the movement graceful and strong. The horse itself will choose which is the best way for it to round its neck and the poll. The important thing is to make clear to the horse the fantastic advantages it acquires in the collection.

Just as soon as the horse understands the collection, you can demonstrate the full advantage to it by teaching it the piaffe and passage.

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