Tennessee, 5 year old Morgan with lack of rear impulsion and extension of gait ridden in snaffle, short cheek mulin mouth, liver pool for driving. And ortho flex(western) saddle in riding ring, and small round pen by  intermediate rider.

Question: this horse is a stallion, good natured, trots and racks, is well broke to drive single and double. I work him on farm machinery. Under saddle what training methods will help me to collect the horse from behind and flex correctly at the poll while doing the rack gait..

From Panelist Erica

Getting him to soften and supple while riding. Although, this may not be desirable if you use him for driving. If you teach your horse to soften correctly, he will essentially round his back and engage his hind end better. You could also inquire on a dressage forum for ideas as well - as they emphasize a lot on just this thing.

Erica Frei

From Panelist Jonathan

When wanting more collection for a more correct way of gaiting , develop a light hand coordinated with sensitive knees or full leg pressure to start. I find it very similar to driving a standard transmission vehicle . You have to feel the correct amount of gas to clutch release for a smooth transition . I sit in a slightly off center/forward seat . Raise the reins 3 or 4 inches while cueing with the knee/leg in conjunction with retaining contact with the mouth . Do not loose contact with the mouth or the rear will not stay engaged while learning . Only after the habit of going this way is solid will I move on to the loose rein gait . Add to this routine practice , practice , practice .


From Panelist Lee

You are asking something that is not possible, IME.  Horses that rack naturally must be in a physical position that is different from the collected, rounded from behind, flexed poll one you are envisioning, or they will cease to rack.  If you want to truly collect the horse, do it in the trot, and let him travel with his "other" position when he is racking.  You can ask him to flex a bit at the poll, with light vibrations on the reins, one hand, then the other, to relax his jaw and bring his forehead to vertical, while driving him forward with squeeze/releases from your calves. 

But don't ask him to collect from the rear, if you want to keep the rack.

Good luck with your gaited Morgan.

Lee Ziegler

From Panelist Liz

Wow this sounds like a very nice horse.

I believe some exercises from the flat walk will help first before asking for more at the rack. I would walk forward at a good fast flat walk and then stop and ask for a few steps backward and right away go right back into the flat walk, repeating this several times in a
lesson . This should help him get his backend up under himself. Do this for as long as it takes, be it days or weeks until he is flexing and conditioned enough to hold a nice flexed collected head set, get maximum extension of leg reach and get the hindquarters engaged.

Remember in a racking gait you can only get so much extension before you would go to another gait . The rack is a gait where they are to break at the hock and lift  up and forward with the hind legs. Overstride is fine at the flat walk but is a limited element of the

When going to the rack ask for him to be collected first from the flat walk and then ask for the rack, don't go to the rack and then ask for him to flex. Asking to collect after you have gone into gait tends to make for a stiff straight neck where asking for it before give you a
nice rounded  flexed neck.


 From Panelist Nancy

I believe a very good exercise to help develop collection is to do a lot of 
backing, followed immediately by going into the rack.  Blend the two 
movements together.  Do not pause between them.  Do all of it smoothly and 
gently, but when you ask him to go forward into the rack, drive hard with 
your seat and legs.  You will notice a great deal of collection and balance 
as you begin to move forward.  If you start to loose the collection, repeat 
the process.  Some of the other helpful exercises to develop collection you 
won't be able to do at the rack.  Another good exercise to help develop 
collection (and also extension) is the shoulder in.  But you wouldn't be able 
to do it at the rack.  You might try doing a shoulder in down the long side 
of the arena at a flat walk and when you get to the corner, turn down the 
diagonal and go back to the other end of the arena.  As you turn down the 
diagonal, go into the rack while asking for a great deal of impulsion and 
collection.  I'm not sure if that will be helpful or not doing it at the flat 
walk and rack.  When the whole exercise is done att the trot it works very 
well and will develop a lot of impulsion upon turning down the diagonal.  It 
won't hurt to try it!

Nancy Cade

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