Hi again. Today we will be moving on with the Uberstreichen Exercises. When your horse will stand on his own then you are ready for the next step. Put your hands on each side of the noseband of the halter and do not but in fingers or thumbs inside the halter in order to prevent injury to yourself your horse should jerk his head up. Don’t but your head above his for the same reason. Hold the horse’s head straight, breathe deeply, and relax. If the horse turns his head one way or the other gently bring it back to straight and then float with him holding his head. Do this for a short time as the horse will tolerate it, then let go slowly and walk away and disconnect. The disconnect is very important to practice. The horse is learning to give and to stay put. He is learning to be responsible without you having to police him. This teaches your horse to stay focused in a hold as well as in a disconnect. Self-carriage of the horse’s gaits can only occur when the horse is free from the rider’s active influence. This exercise starts the journey. Self-carriage creates proper carriage and natural collection.
The next step with the first exercise is to pull down gently on the halter in the same manner, remember to breath deeply, and relax. As you are pulling down alternate between pulling down and holding on in a float style going with the horse and returning him to straight when ever necessary. When the horse drops his head slightly then release and take another relaxing walk around your horse. If your horse is the kind that puts his head down to the ground gently lift it up so that his eye is at your waist level or lower. Work on getting him to hold it at the height you ask for on his own while you are holding on to him in a floating style making your adjustments to straight or lower and higher when you need to in a relaxed manner. This will help you acquire communication through the reins that are more effective when you ride.
As you continue to practice this, hold him in this position longer and longer. The result should be complete relaxation in both you and your horse. You should feel that your horse and you are in a deep connection, in relaxation - a state of bliss. Your horse will half close his eyes. After the second week when you ask your horse to low his head, he will automatically go into a feeling of well-being relaxation and a trace like state of consciousness. Initially and periodically, when you take the horse’s head between your hands you will feel that his neck is locked meaning you cannot move it easily. When you try he will give you some resistance and this is good as you work on getting him to unlock. He will at some point unlock it. Proof that he has unlocked his neck is that you can gently nod his head in and out from his chest and left and right and in little circles with him remaining perfectly relaxed.
(Just imagine you are at a show and your horse gets wild over something and if he has been practicing this exercise, all you have to do to gain his composure is to do this exercise with him and he will let go and relax and return to your guidance in seconds.)
Your horse is learning that to give to a request is enjoyable and rewarding. The first thing you want in a horse is control of his head and nose. Where the nose goes so will the horse. When his nose is happy so is the horse. He is learning self-carriage while working with you in the halt.
If you have, any questions let me know. Good luck and I hope you find these exercises I am about to share with you as valuable as I have. I also want to say again that this method will support all equestrian pursuits when you ride and deepen the bond and connection you share with your horse. This is going to be our wintertime project together. If your climate is too cold to work with your horse, you can imagine you are doing them. When I was unable to ride for a year I imagined I was training and riding and when I returned to riding I was ever better at riding that when I left it. So, go ahead and train your imaginary horse. Just studying the exercises will help you in many ways to become a light, and effective rider as well as becoming present to the true art of horsemanship. You will be training your horse to perform in self-carriage without the need of nose bands or even bits. Who knows when you get to your horse he may have read your mind and you discover he already knows what you are asking him to do!
Enjoy your weekend and good luck with the Holiday shopping!