Hello. So sorry if you were expecting a blog post yesterday but it was one of those days and I didn't get round to finishing this till late. Anyway, here is the fourth Uberstreichen Exercise for you to have a go at. Before I get into it though, each time you practice the exercises, start them from the beginning and do them in order. Remember your horse needs to be willing and in a good mood before you start. Before I start training, I spend at least 15 minuets Sharing Territory with my horse in whatever place he is kept. This way the glue and the connection is always re-established. Stand in front of your horse on a dropped line when you begin each session. Pause for at least a minute and then walk around your horse. If your horse begins to walk off, take the rope and lead him back to the spot he was standing. Hold him for a moment and then release him the moment he is still and say “whoa”.
So, the fourth Uberstreichen Exercise is done like the third exercise with an addition of a halt when you are asking the horse to carry his head down.
Start by putting a marker down anywhere on the circle pattern that you have been walking him on. At this point you will have done the third exercise and for the fourth exercise you are going to try and stop your horse at the marker. When you get a few steps away from the marker ask your horse to slow down with his head held low like in the third exercise and then ask him to stop right over the marker. Bring his head all the way down to the ground, hold him there over the marked spot for a count of 7, then release to a non-influencing looped line, and repeat the whole exercise. Once he can do this, ask him to stop every 20 feet or so in this manner. You can also use a carrot as your marker once or twice if you like. When his head comes to the ground from your pull he gets to eat the carrot. What fun!!
Use the carrot treat only once or twice, not more. Treats can take away the horse’s work ethic, his focus off the goal and onto the carrot. We need to keep building the rhythm in connection between you and your horse.
It will take time for you to develop your skill, so again think of it as practice and discipline. You and your horse are developing team-working skills with one another. When your skill grows from the practice of the exercises your riding aids will improve.
How this exercise will help you is for example when you are riding in dressage as it will help the horse to stay supple while coming into a halt. Horses often confuse the halt request and the supplying aid. When this happens the rider begins to ride more aggressively by putting on more leg aids with stronger rein aids in an attempt to get the horse to respond properly. The horse then responds by bracing and becoming locked in the neck when he halts. Some horses will over-collect and run through the bridle. The horse has no idea that the rider is asking for halt. When riders can fix these problems with stronger aids, the rider then learns to be more aggressive and the philosophy of dressage flies out the window. I developed this exercise for the horse to being able to distinguish the halt request from the supplying request and to be able to respond to both coming into a halt.
A tip for you in using rein aids when you ride: When giving a request with the reins, they must be released after the request for the horse to be able to respond properly so the horse can be in self carriage. If you are coming to a halt, slow the horse first and then ask for halt. Think of it in two stages of request. Do not ask for halt until you have successfully slowed down the horse and the horse will stay slow in self-carriage.
A well-trained horse can perform only as well as the rider can ride. A good thing to give your horse is “no-fault insurance”. When things do not work out, it is usually from not asking the horse in a way he understands.
If you are doing well with the third exercise and your horse is responding, then the fourth exercise should flow on naturally from that. As always, please check in and let me know if you are experiencing any issues with this or any of the other exercises to date.
Enjoy your weekend and go easy on those carrots!