How Do I Achieve Los­ge­lassen­heit?

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QI am work­ing on Los­ge­lassen­heit with my horse, a Thor­ough­bred geld­ing who gets eas­ily ex­cited. I am not quite sure if I have ever achieved Los­ge­lassen­heit with him. Could you give me a few signs that tell me whether he has achieved this or not? Also, what are your fa­vorite ex­er­cises to achieve Los­ge­lassen­heit?

KARI GARBER

Name with­held by re­quest As i of­ten say to my stu­dents I'd like to pick on you for be­ing good first for un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of los­ge­lassen­heit in train­ing your horse, and sec­ond (most im­por­tantly), for lis­ten­ing and look­ing for in­put from your horse. your ques­tions pre­sup­pose that you have an un­der­stand­ing of what los­ge­lassen­heit is, so i will not ad­dress that at length in my re­sponse.

for the in­ter­est of our read­ers, i will state that it is the sec­ond step of the train­ing pyra­mid. los­ge­lassen­heit is a men­tal and phys­i­cal re­lax­ation that al­lows the hind legs to send the for­ward en­ergy through a swing­ing back. it is also easy enough to find many good trans­la­tions. let’s turn to what the horse has to say about this. signs of los­ge­lassen­heit in your horse would be the fol­low­ing (loosely adapted from prin­ci­ples of rid­ing, the of­fi­cial hand­book of the ger­man na­tional eques­trian fed­er­a­tion):

in­di­ca­tions of los­ge­lassen­heit are: A con­tent and happy ex­pres­sion in the horse’s eyes and ears. it can be a loose­ness from the base of the ears, floppy ears or an ear turned to­ward the rider, ac­tively lis­ten­ing. you shouldn’t see a wor­ried, wrin­kled eye

Los­ge­lassen­heit is achieved when the horse moves nat­u­rally and rhythmically for­ward in all three gaits.

or a big white eye­ball.

• Tail car­ried and swing­ing with the horse's move­ment.

• A rhythmically swing­ing back (that the rider can eas­ily sit).

• Horse chew­ing the bit lightly with a closed mouth and "wear­ing his white lip­stick" pro­duced by re­lax­ation through the neck and jaw, which cre-ates a foamy saliva.

• A purring, rhyth­mic snort or blow­ing, which is a sign that the horse is men-tally re­laxed. Some horses sound like a trac­tor, oth­ers give an oc­ca­sional snorting sigh of re­lax­ation. It is not a tense fire-breath­ing snorting. We rid-ers should also re­mem­ber to breathe, as it re­leases our own ten­sion.

• Los­ge­lassen­heit is achieved when the horse moves nat­u­rally and rhythmically for­ward in all three gaits, with his neck low­ered for­ward/down­ward and with his back swing­ing. The horse should now ac­cept the for­ward driv­ing aids with­out rush­ing, and the rider should be able to push.

Let's now ad­dress the next part of your ques­tion—my fa­vorite ex­er­cises to develop Los­se­lassen­heit. You say that your Thor­ough­bred geld­ing gets eas­ily ex­cited. There are many good exer-cises to choose from at this step of the Train­ing Pyra­mid. The "what" is not as im­por­tant as the "how," or as the song says, "It's not what you do, it's how you do it." The goal/pri­or­ity is that the horse is work­ing with a swing­ing back, with his core en­gaged, giv­ing you a place to eas­ily sit, and an ab­sence of phys­i­cal and men­tal ten­sion.

There is not one recipe for all horses. You need to do what works best for each horse. I use dif­fer­ent ex­er­cises for dif­fer­ent as­pects of this stage of train-ing as well as ad­just them for a horse's nat­u­ral men­tal state. A hot and eas­ily ex­citable horse re­quires more things on his to-do list to keep him fo­cused and re­laxed (such as rid­ing lots of transi-tions and changes of tempo), while other hot horses are calmed more by the rhythm and a big to-do list makes them feel more tense be­cause they eas-ily grow over­whelmed when you do too many tran­si­tions or changes of tempo. This is where lis­ten­ing to the feed­back from your horse is cru­cial.

Try th­ese ex­er­cises to im­prove Los-gelassen­heit: Rid­ing a leg yield in var­i­ous pat­terns at trot and can­ter, as well as trot—can­ter tran­si­tions, de­creases nega-tive ten­sion and in­creases pos­i­tive ten-sion (or attentiveness). Rid­ing changes of tempo (tran­si­tions within the gait) also are help­ful and serve to ac­ti­vate the hind legs. Some of my fa­vorite exer-cises are rid­ing a sin­gle-loop ser­pen­tine on the long side or a stan­dard three-loop ser­pen­tine in trot or can­ter. When rid­ing three- and five-loop serpentines, you can add some vari­a­tion by adding walk or trot tran­si­tions upon cross­ing the cen­ter­line.

Trot—can­ter tran­si­tions rid­den cor-rectly on a cir­cle and cavalletti work round out my list of fa­vorites. I like ca- valletti work be­cause it makes the horse a bit more respon-sible for him­self and gives him some­thing to think about. Caval-letti work in gen­eral helps to bring up the back and ac­ti­vate the hind legs. You can also make ad­just­ments that en­cour-age stretch-ing while work­ing over the caval-letti—again, all done with focus on be­ing cor­rectly rid­den and ap­ply­ing the listed in­di­ca­tors for Los­ge­las­set­theit. We rid­ers are work­ing to achieve both lat­eral and lon­gi­tu­di­nal sup­ple­ness with a mind/ body con­nec­tion.

No mat­ter what ex­er­cise you are ork­ing on or gait you are in, a good ay to test Los­se­lassen­heit is rid­ing a stretchy cir­cle. It is not a break—it is ac­tively rid­den—so make sure you keep rid­ing the en­tire time. You can also ride the stretch on a straight line and in any gait. Be re­spon­si­ble for your own seat and bal­ance. At any time, you should e able to al­low the horse to stretch for­ward and then down­ward, which should be grad­ual, with the horse chewin the reins from our hands.

Los­ge­lassen­heit is a men­tal and phys­i­cal re­lax­ation that al­lows the hind legs to send the for­ward pro­duc­ing en­ergy through a swing­ing back.

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