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 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…

    Unaffiliated dressage

    Date: 4 January
    Venue: Oaklands College, St Alban’s
    Details: “This competition features classes from walk and trot to elementary, plus a pick your own section.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated dressage

    Date: 4 January
    Venue: Reaseheath College, Nantwich
    Details: “This unaffiliated competition has classes from intro to elementary.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated weekday morning dressage

    Date: 8 January
    Venue: Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre, Cam
    Details: “This competition has classes ranging from intro to elementary.”
    Enter now

    British Dressage

    Date: 9 January
    Venue: Filed House, Staffordshire
    Details: “This affiliated show has classes from prelim to advanced medium.”
    Enter now

    Winter dressage series

    Date: 12 January
    Venue: Leamside Equestrian, Houghton Le Spring
    Details: “This competition features unaffiliated classes from intro up to medium.”
    Enter now

    Unaffiliated dressage

    Date: 12 January
    Venue: Inchcoonans Competition & Livery Yard, Errol
    Details: “This competition includes classes from intro up to advanced medium.”
    Enter now

    Visit equo.co.uk for full competition and training listings

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