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Lifting the Front End

“Well, she says some good things, but she also believes that you lift the front end by the thoracic sling instead of by activating the hind end, so”.

You bet your ass I do. And here is why -


Okay, okay, seriously though.

Illustration by the ever talented, Rozenn Grosjean

Figure A - Skeleton of a horse without a developed thoracic sling.

Figure B - Skeleton of a horse with a developed thoracic sling.

Figure C - Skeleton of a horse with the developed sling that is activated.


The change in shoulder angle.

The change in spacing between the cervical spine to the scapula.

The change in spacing between the withers and the scapula.

The neutrality of the spine vs being dumped down.

How the load becomes more even over the lower limbs.

How the load becomes even overall.

The spacing in the spine.


There are two camps of people in the biomechanics world.

One believes that the development of the sling is the golden ticket.

One believes that the hind end is what lifts the front end.

And I’m here to tell you -

Both are true.

Yep. Sorry guys.

But I’ll let you decide for yourself which order feels more “right”.

A -

The horses hindquarters are massively powerful and unlike the front end, it is fully held up by skeletal structures.

We CAN compress the spine and lift the front end of the horse by asking them to shift their energy back.

This does not develop the thoracic sling, it only develops the lower half of the abdomen, iliospsoas and hind end.

And, it’s still effective visually to get that “lift” to a neutral spine.

What most commonly happens when you “drive from behind” with a horse like Figure A, is that you are doing the equivalent of dropping a hemi on flat front wheels.

The horse then is forced to brace with its underneck to “pull up the sling to allow for all of the energy of the hind to come through.

It works, but there are a lot of compensatory patterns that happen a long the way.

B -

Once the horse has a developed front end, the spine becomes “neutral”, aka not down-hill, thus allowing for more follow through with the hind end.

This is where you can start to engage the hind end and get some really sold extensions of movement.

C -

Once the horse is able to activate into that sling development, it can quite literally “inflate” the front end of the horse, which then when you add that drive from behind you get that incredible and through “lift” and more than anything, balance.

It is a whole horse game, loves.

There are a thousand ways to do the same thing, and most of them are effective or else people wouldn’t be doing them.

What I’m offering you, is to consider what your metric of effectiveness is.

Is it that the horse accomplished the movement?

Or is it how the movement is developing your horse?

Only you can decided that for yourself

Personally, I like my horses like I like my cars.


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