Hello. Today we'll continue with my discussion of the Uberstreichen Exercises and why there are so useful. The Uberstreichen exercises will benefit any form of riding. I created them for all kinds of equestrian pursuits from a dressage approach from the heart of dressage when the horse is trained only in unity and harmony without force. Once the horse is schooled in the Uberstreichen Exercises for your work to translate to the saddle you will need to be a seasoned rider because you will need the same connection, tact and authority on your horse’s back as you have developed from the ground. The Uberstreichen’s can most definitely empower a person to ride more effectively but nothing replaces experience under saddle.
The exercises have so many elements to their purpose. Try not to think of them as half-halt exercises which might confuse you particularly if you are a pleasure rider who does not think they are necessary for your riding. If you feel that the term half-halt is too hard to understand, let’s think of them in plain English. Think of half-halts as the smallest request you can ask the horse in order to get the most response. Whatever your discipline everyone needs that on their horse. The Uberstreichen Exercises train horses as well as humans to be exceptionally supportive dance partners when riding through better communication and response through the reins, seat, legs, voice and from the ground. The focus is asking for the smallest suppling and relaxing and carrying of the poll, neck and shoulder in the moments of halt. In the moment of asking for halt and in the moment of asking for forward from halt you should be able to foster suppleness within the dance without losing rhythm or quality of gait. The same applies for any transition between gaits. Focus on getting flexion of the neck through the same movements by asking the horse to give and to relax, listen, surrender and perform in a way that fosters equality, freedom and connection between horse and rider throughout the dance.
The Exercises are intended to create a well balanced stride with a swinging back on a no contact rein and for the horse to go round, long or as deep as you want without having to hold the horse to it with a bit or rein. This reason it is important is that it will help a horse distribute his weight evenly so no small joint or tendon winds up with the burden of carrying the horse’s weight. Also they will create the ability to collect and lengthen the stride when you would like a horse to be in a certain frame. They will benefit bitless and bridleless riding as well from the centaur connection that you build with your horse through the schooling. It also teaches a horse to want to stay under you when you are riding him so if you do not want to go forward he would not want to go forward. This is how liberty riding is achieved.
The Uberstreichen Exercises will create a gas pedal and brake working like a dream in concert with one another which will produce expressive gaits. From the practice of the exercises, you will be able to develop your horse’s relaxation, alertness, and understanding in how to perform for collection and lengthening in a spontaneous and enthusiastic manner.
Initially you will be working your horse mainly in walk with a few moments in walk, trot transition latter on. Canter can be done also but once you can walk and trot it is easier to work canter from the horse’s back. I sometimes work from the ground in canter because I like the skill it requires from me and the deeper connection I am able to build, but it really is unnecessary to do canter work in hand. Canter work in hand takes great skill and is unpractical from the ground usually.
The Uberstreichen Exercises are great also for schooling a horse that is on stall rest. Just leave out the trot work and using the 20 meter circle. You can easily adapt the program to fit into the small area your horse needs to be in while on stall rest. It also helps a horse with boredom. The exercises are also beneficial to the horse’s health from the well being, relaxation and stretches they provide, just like yoga.
Through what the horses learns from these exercises you will get rid of any reason to hold a horse in a frame against his will using the bit, reins or tie downs. The Uberstreichen Exercises have helped me with insecure horses or horses that want to be behind the leg or lose a willingness to collect and stay active. We are teaching a horse to be responsible not to hold him responsible. If you are planning to develop a dressage horse with them you will need the skill of a dressage rider for what you have trained from the ground to translate to the saddle completely. There is a possibility however your skill for riding in dressage will greatly increase. Don’t forget dressage is an art that takes practice and experience over many years with the right horse. You really need to know when a horse is “through” meaning he is where you want him to be and that this is hard to judge in the beginning because you are not sure where you want him to me. I see riders in dressage suppling when they should focus on speed control instead or change of patterns to bring a horse “through”. You also need to know when your horse is “up in the back” meaning he is supple and engaged through his whole body. When you watch a horse traveling, is he pounding the ground or his is lifting of the ground with suspension. If he shows increased suspension he is usually ‘up in the back’ and the best way to develop this understanding is to ride a school master while an experienced person tells you when this is happening so you know what it feels like and how to create it and maintain it.
I'll be back with another story from one of my students. Enjoy your weekend