Savannah Aliy Jackson is the first to admit that her claims sound too good to be true. In developing her Elevates Equine Lifetime Soundness System over the last 15 years, she has helped horses on every point in the wellness spectrum. From mares preparing for pregnancy and their eventual youngsters to senior equine citizens and those of any age whose performance, behavior and/or injuries have put them at the hopeless end of that span.
Postural restoration is the goal of Elevates Equine because it restores the horse's entire system back to a healing state. After pinpointing crookedness in the body while watching the horse walk or trot a few steps, Savannah palpates the body to verify where the most acute points of pain are.
Then she goes to work. Her approach centers on the soft tissue that comprises 90 percent of a horse's body. It incorporates myofascial release therapy and energy work.
It might sound complicated, but it's actually easy to learn, reports Savannah, whose top priority is education and creating awareness. The free demonstrations that precede monthly clinics welcome all; from new equestrians to experienced horse owners. "It's very understandable, teachable and repeatable," Savannah says. "My goal is that more people will learn to see what's really going on with their horses and to see horses in a different way. Ultimately, I want more people to be able to see where the problems can come from before they become big problems."
The two-day clinics are more intensive, designed for people with a solid foundation of horse experience and those interested in becoming certified to use the Elevates Equine system on their own. "That's my bigger goal: to create more of me!" says Savannah. "The clinics are about sharing the next layer of vision to where this system becomes a diagnostic and evaluative tool for preventing and eliminating pain and injury. This gives horse people peace of mind and saves them money and heartache."
Elevates Equine is most often first called upon in a health crisis. Mystery lamenesses and dangerous behaviors are among the conditions for which Savannah is often summoned to a new barn. "For example, after the first session with a 'last resort' case horse, I may have saved its life," she asserts. "Typically, they are back to normal work within three to six months." Once people see the effects of her system, they typically ask her to work on their horses that seem "just fine."
How easy everything becomes is one of the most striking epiphanies prompted by Savannah's work. "It really can cut training time by two-thirds because it allows horses to work freely, correctly and safely." Bucking, rearing and less dangerous forms of resistance are typical of horses who are hurting or trying to tell their owner they are physically not capable of doing what's asked. One scenario is a horse that works poorly going in one direction. "Maybe he turns and tries to kick at you or turns away to prevent you from accessing one side," Savannah explains. "That's a communication that he's protecting the side that's weaker and usually painful."
"The important thing there is to maintain that valuable communication with them; for them to understand that we want to know when they can't do something physically." In many conventional training methods, the undetected physical challenge would be addressed by "trying to train it out of them, usually by working that weak side even more." Horses respond to that tactic in different ways. "They can lose respect for their rider and trainer, shut down completely, and some get belligerent and are labeled 'bad'."
Fortunately, Savannah is promoting her system at a time when "more people want a partnership with their horse rather than a domination/submission relationship."
The results are obvious. Bigger strides, an easier time picking up leads on a formerly "bad" side and the ability to maintain balance under saddle are some common benefits, along with the enhanced expression and presence of a horse that is happy and simply feels good. "Once they are moving correctly, they can load and strengthen their hind end, easily be on the bit, and can really lift up and stretch through their backs and topline."
It's easier on the rider, too. Pain in her own body was one of the catalysts for Savannah's journey. Working as an assistant trainer at many hunter/jumper barns, she spent years trying to force horses into alignment with her riding aids. It was exhausting, very hard on her own body and, ultimately, not successful in any lasting way. "My system appeals to a lot of people just because it's so straightforward and simple!" she notes.
Elevates Equine's next monthly clinic is set for Nov. 14-16, with the Friday night session as a free demo. The location is the Stanford Red Barn in Palo Alto, where she'll hold clinics regularly for the next several months. Meantime, there are a few opportunities to host clinics in the coming year.