I invented the Uberstreichen Exercises to help me train dressage horses and then Arabian show horses for my junior students. They helped me produce more relaxation, performance and consistent collection at the shows for my junior riders. Libby Ouellette suggested the name Uberstreichen Exercises and I thought it was appropriate. She was a Hilda Gurney student at the time who was also a student of mine and is now a long time family friend. Uberstreichen is a term used in dressage that is a test to see if your horse is in self-carriage or leaning on the rein for support. You release the contact rein and if the horse stays in frame without the reins for a few strides he is in self-carriage. If he falls immediately, he is leaning on the rein. If he stays in the same form they call this behind the bit or contact and that is also considered not desirable because the horse is not through. By using this test you then know where to put your focus in order to repair the situation. Since the exercises are teaching a horse to respond with out a contact rein, the name was perfect. Thank you again Libby.
Before I had invented the Uberstreichen Exercises I thought the there must be a way to train a horse to be more responsible, enthusiastic, reliable and motivated for dressage and my junior riders and this had to be accomplished through the horse have a clearer understanding of what was being asked. The biggest problem that is occurring in the equestrian world is simply that the horse does not understand and the equestrian world needs the courage and trust to get out of a horses way and leave the horse alone in order to dance. If you are holding a horse to his performance you are admitting that is not trained, seasoned or willing (like in rollkur). I knew horses and the one thing about them is if they understand you and are bonded they are willing, dedicated and energetic creatures. I also knew that a horse on his own doing these movements that we ask for in dressage and classical riding has a great sense of self, presence of mind and feeling of courage. These are expressions of joy, celebration and ego and a show of strength. These movements cannot be recreated through the entrapment of tack or intimidation. The answer to getting these expressions must occur in the moment of sense of power, freedom and safety and knowing.
My development of these Exercises came from the slow journey of communicating with a horse on the ground. Through small minuscule requests I began to develop the true arching of the neck. In those moments working together with the horse as a team I understood how to follow and lead to be able to partner while performing. From my search for this, I discovered the Uberstreichen Exercises.
For fun let’s look out for pictures of horses in nature in movements that are free and beautiful and powerful. Then become the horse and put on some music that brings you alive and then dance like the horses in the pictures you have admired. In those moments pay attention to how your movements direct your thoughts and how your thoughts direct your movements. Notice that the one thing that is causing you to bow your neck and act like a horse is your enthusiasm and interest in the program I am suggesting you to do. Without enthusiasm you will not want to do what I am suggesting you try. You could be motivated though if you had the right circumstances and dance partner and music and that is the way it is for the horse. It boils down to your partnership, your enthusiasm and the connection to the music that leads you to the desire to dance. We need to lead horses like music leads us. Music inspires. So if were are the music that leads the horse we need to spend more time in learn how to ensure the horse is open to wanting to understand what we are asking him to follow.
Have a lovely weekend.