Elevation refers to the raising of the forehand coupled with the lowering of the hindquarters, which involves shifting of the horse’s centre of balance. You’ve heard this before, in previous posts (B is for Balance and C is for Cadence) where I talked about how to achieve more weight onto your horse’s hocks by the use of half-halts.
It is important to note that it is the ‘lowering of the quarters’ that ‘raises the forehand’ and we should not be at all concerned about raising the forehand, but merely concentrate on the hind quarters doing it for us.
Have you heard the terms ‘absolute elevation’ and ‘relative elevation’ ? These terms seem to have come out of the Rollkur debate (probably not, but I didn’t hear them before . Pff, more mumbo jumbo to get your head round! lol), essentially classical purists (and anyone who wishes to train their horse correctly) wants to see relative elevation in the horse, where the elevation of the front end is relative to the lowering of the hind-end.
What we often see is ‘absolute elevation’ where a horse pulled in and up from the front with the hind quarters having no effect and lacking engagement.
Absolute Elevation …
Lusitano Stallion Olhao & Olympic Gold Medalist Valegro
As your horse learns to carry more weight behind, you will be able to apply the aids with ever-increasing lightness and more finesse so that the half-halt can be ridden without anyone being aware of it except you and your horse. You will also notice over a period of time, as your horse gets stronger, the paces start to elevate and become more wonderful.
This is because you are exchanging forward momentum for elevation.
You need to check that you have built the basic blocks in order to begin asking for more elevation in your horse’s paces. The measures of whether you are ready to achieve or begin to work on elevation of the paces are:
- how obedient your horse is – most benefit will be gained if your horse is ‘sharp off the leg’
- how supple he is
- how well he yields to the leg and rein aids.
Without the above in place you will not have worked long enough on your horse’s musculature for him to carry more weight behind.
Elevate: To raise or lift something to a higher or more impressive level.
Here’s what to do … Aim to impress!