VOLUME 22 • © HORSES For LIFE™ Magazine
Relative vs. Absolute Elevation
Absolute elevation of the neck.
I first came across the terms and the concept of relative and absolute elevation by Theresa Sandin.
She points out the difference between the two terms of relative and absolute. Relative, as in being relative to something else and absolute, as in how something changes without something else changing. Relative is about having a relation to something else. Relative to the relationship of the entire horse’s body.
I was struck by the idea of how we can use these two terms of relative elevation and absolute elevation to help penetrate and evaluate the difference between real and false collection.
So how could two new terms help us out?
Why not just use existing terms? What's wrong with the terms collection and false collection?
It appears in our modern world that the term collection no longer truly stands for anything. At least, it appears that everyone is willing to think that their horse is collected perhaps just because his head is on the vertical -- or they think that every rider that they see who rides at Grand Prix level and is on TV and gets marks of 60s, 70s and 80s, must be riding a collected horse.
Collection has become a non-word. A word that no longer means anything. A word that most equestrians can't recognize or don't use properly. Its substance and its meaning have come to not truly mean anything at all. Thus in our descriptive terminology, how can we even begin to try to use the word collection in any way or form that means the same thing to all equestrians?
Collection has become a word that no longer has any meaning. A word that people spout off with regularly and completely insincere terms.
On the other hand, terminology such as absolute and relative elevation provide us with a visual context within the very words of the term they are meant to represent. Once we understand the context of each term, each one can be used to easily represent the work that the horse is doing.
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• © HORSES For LIFE™ Magazine