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Rollback collection exercise. By Lisa Wieben and Birgit Stutz

October 14, 2018

We love the following collection exercise. Doing this exercise with your horse will create more ‘push power’ in your horse’s hind end, as well as lift in the front end.

For this exercise, you and your horse should know how to execute a turn on the haunches. You can review by reading the blog entries and

Start by riding your horse in a working jog on a 20-metre circle. Ask your horse to come to a walk by inhaling and growing tall (creating a feeling of lightness in your body tells the horse that a change is coming), then exhaling and sinking down. Hold through your centre through the transition. Make sure to maintain straightness in your body, no leaning forward or back, with your legs close to the horse to maintain straightness and forward energy into the walk. There should be no feeling of ‘halt’ in a downward walk transition.


Working jog on the circle.

Shorten your horse’s stride with your seat and rein aids while maintaining rhythm. Keep your legs on the horse in order to maintain the activity of the horse’s legs.


Turn on the haunches: nice bend through the body in the direction of the turn.

Ask for a turn on the haunches to the outside of the circle. If circling to the left, perform the turn on the haunches to the right.

Open the inside rein to flex the horse slightly into the direction of the turn. The outside rein limits the amount of bend in the neck while allowing the shoulders to move around the turn. Move both hands slightly in the direction of the turn to lead the forehand around the hindquarters. The inside rein is a leading or opening rein, while the outside rein is brought closer to the neck to guide the horse around the turn as a supporting rein.

You can slightly shift your weight onto your inside seat bone and keep your inside leg on the girth to maintain bend and suppleness throughout the body and encourage engagement of the inside hind leg and to prevent the horse from stepping back in the turn. Move your outside leg slightly behind the girth to help bend the horse around the inside leg and to prevent his hindquarters from swinging out. The upper inner thigh can help push the horse around the turn. The inside hind leg will become the pivot point, however instead of a pivot foot, imagine the horse walking his hind legs around a dinner plate, while the forelegs and outside hind leg step around on a larger circle. If the horse pivots on a foot the foot picks up and sets down close to the same spot maintaining a walking rhythm. The outside front leg should be crossing over the inside front leg.

Allow your outside hip to move forward slightly as you turn your body to match your horse’s turn. However, too much turn through your hips will push the hindquarters out of the turn so keep the movement subtle. Keep the buttons on your shirt or your belt buckle lined up with the horse’s mane and your eyes looking through your horse’s ears. Overturning with the head will create too big a shift in your body weight and cause the horse to get heavy on the forehand.


Walking to the turn on the haunches.

Maintain a following seat and keep the walking rhythm. The horse must maintain its bend and remain forward throughout the movement. Once the turn is completed ask for working jog onto the circle.

While executing the exercise, the horse should stay forward, relaxed, balanced, and on the bit, while maintaining rhythm and correct bend.

If the horse pivots on the outside hind leg instead of on the inside hind leg, the horse is backing up instead of staying forward. You may need to use more leg to keep the horse forward. Asking for the turn with a straighter neck or slight counter- bend may also help get the horse more onto the inside hind leg.

To increase difficulty, you can also do this exercise from a lope. Lope a 20-metre circle, ask for a jog, then walk, shorten the steps in the walk to a turn on the haunches, maintaining the forward steps, complete a 180 turn on the haunches, then lope out.


Turn on the haunches: the rider’s body is balanced with the turn.

Overview of exercise:

1) Begin on a 20-metre circle in working jog.

2) Pick a spot to perform a downward transition to walk. Ask for transition using seat, voice, and rein aids if needed.

3) Shorten the steps in walk by using seat and rein aids.

4) Perform a 180-degree turn on the haunches to the outside of the circle with horse in correct bend for the turn.

5) Jog out of turn.

6) Repeat exercise.

This is a fun exercise and you will find your horse will enjoy the challenge!

This article is the 28th in a series of articles on Western dressage and is a collaboration between Lisa Wieben (see biography below) and Birgit Stutz. The articles appear in the horse magazine SaddleUp on a monthly basis.

Photos by Lisa Wieben. Rider Jacklyn Hegberg and her horse Cash.

Lisa Wieben is a Level 2 Centered Riding Instructor, EC Coach, and Irwin Insights Level 4 Master Certified Trainer. Specializing in Western and English Dressage, she coaches near Bowden/Olds, AB. Lisa is also a Hanna Somatic Instructor and Practitioner in Training, working with riders, in class or privately, to learn movement exercises that target specific muscle issues in the body brought on by stress, injuries, surgeries, and overuse. A balanced rider equals a balanced horse.

 Birgit Stutz is an Irwin Insights Level 4 Master Certified Trainer and offers horse training, lessons (English and Western), clinics, mentorship programs, horsemanship courses, workshops, short courses and demos on various topics, and working student programs at Falling Star Ranch Academy of Foundational Horsemanship in Dunster, BC. Birgit’s passion is to help humans have a better relationship with their horses through understanding of equine psychology, body language, biomechanics, as well as fundamental riding skills.


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