How does your horse know the difference between stretching forward-downward and the so-called überstreichen?
A member of Rien van der Schaft’s online program asked us this question during a live Q&A. Find out what Rien’s answer was:
In principle, a horse doesn’t know what the difference is between stretching and überstreichen.
With überstreichen you’re basically testing whether your horse carries himself and that his posture isn’t forced with pressure from the rein.
But you only do überstreichen for a couple of strides.
After a few strides your will want to search for your hand if he’s trained in the right way.
With überstreichen you break the contact for a few strides by bringing your hands forwards. The purpose is that your horse’s posture and balance doesn’t change.
When your stretching your horse you want your horse to take your hands in a forward-down direction.
You invite your horse to bring his nose forward-downwards, but you keep contact with the mouth.
Never give more rein than what your connection can manage.
Another tip from Rien about stretching:
never give more rein than what the connection can manage.
What does Rien mean with this phrase?
You want to feel a connection from back to front when you’re riding your horse. And you want to feel this connection all the time.
So also when you’re stretching your horse.
However, if the connection isn’t very solid, you only want to stretch your horse a little bit.
If you do more, then you might lose the connection from back to front.
You’re basically giving too much rein.
Unfortunately, that will also take away the benefit of stretching. So it’s better to do less when stretching your horse and keep a good connection, than stretch all the way and lose the connection.
And there’s something else I want to share…
Rien often talks about checking if you have the right connection.
You can do this by bringing both hands forwards and see if your horse will search for the contact by moving his nose in a forward-downward direction.
If he, instead, brings his head upwards, then you know you don’t have the right connection.
So you want your horse to go look for the contact.
And he ideally does that by moving in a forward-down direction.
But isn’t that the opposite of what you want to accomplish with überstreichen?
Yes… and no…
You only do überstreichen for a couple of strides. In that moment, your horse will carry himself and stay in the same balance and posture.
But after those few strides, you will want your horse to go look for the contact in a forward-down way.