How to encourage your horse to be more uphill

Here’s some great advice on how to encourage your horse to be more uphill in his way of going from grand prix dressage rider and trainer Kate Cowell (pictured)

What does ‘uphill’ mean?

The six German scales of training are rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness and lastly collection. The beginning of collection is where the rider can influence the horse’s balance, enabling more weight to be taken into the hindquarters, which in effect lightens the forehand making the horse more ‘uphill’.

Young horses will initially carry the rider’s weight on their shoulders and through the scales of training and consequent muscle development over time, it transforms a ‘green’ ride to a more advanced, athletic ride where the horse is able to lower and engage its hindlegs. The horse will be more enjoyable to ride as he will have more self-carriage, and this will positively influence aspects such as your horse having less reliance on the rider’s hands. The manipulation of balance also makes the horse more elastic and supple which develops the paces.

What exercises can help?

Development of the half halt — this is the coordination of seat, leg and hands. Transitions in and out of the pace, and within the pace can develop the half halt. With training, the half halt should become almost invisible.

With a young horse, a transition into halt or lengthened canter into working canter begins as the first stepping stone to collection.

In a more advanced horse, the level of collection can be seen in piaffe or canter pirouettes.

Lateral work — this encourages engagement of the hindlegs and consequently improved balance. Basic lateral work can begin with leg yielding, particularly down the long side with shoulders on the wall and quarters-in. This can develop into shoulder-in, travers, renvers, half pass.

For the horse to develop a more uphill tendency, the rider needs to be well balanced with good core stability and elasticity with independent seat, legs and hands and all tension-free.

Now you’ve got that advice in mind, take a look at these dressage competitions available to enter where you can show off what you’ve learnt…

British Dressage

Date: 17 October
Venue: Alnwick Ford Equestrian, Morpeth
Details: “This competition features classes from prelim to inter II with winter qualifiers, plus para classes too.”
Enter now

Evening dressage

Date: 18 October
Venue: Highfield Equestrian at Howe, Cupar
Details: “This unaffiliated competition is informal and doesn’t require you to plait. Classes range from intro to elementary and there is also a ‘clear round’ before competition commences, where you can go into the arena without a judge being present.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated dressage

Date: 20 October
Venue: Cobham Manor Equestrian Centre, Maidstone
Details: “This competition features classes from intro to elementary with under 12 and freestyle to music sections too.”
Enter now

British Dressage

Date: 21 October
Venue: Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester
Details: “This affiliated show has classes from prelim to prix st georges.”
Enter now

Nervous dressage

Date: 21 October
Venue: Ladyleys, Oldmeldrum
Details: “This competition allows you to ride a dressage test of your choice without having to leave the arena as you also warm-up in the same arena too.”
Enter now

Unaffiliated mid-week dressage

Date: 24 October
Venue: Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre, Gloucestershire
Details: “This competition includes classes from intro up to elementary with a relaxed atmosphere.”
Enter now

Visit for full competition and training listings