Dear All: I was wondering about the literal draping reins stuff. There's a picture on,one of the u.s.e.t's web sites of a German immigrant doing an Uber Streichen ( loop the reins and stroke the horses neck) I was wondering if so doing is an adaption of the French Descente de Maine- Descente de Jambes. I suspect not so because, while they do occasionally speak of Uber Streichen they don't- as far as I know say Aufhellen Menschlicjes Bein( freeing or lightening of the riders leg)
Mike had quite a lengthy discussion a while back about certain internationally famous show riders forcing the lift out of the horse back and bopping their horses in the mouth with the bit with every stride.
Also George Morris talked two years ago in his Oregon clinic about the differing national,' schools,' of thought about how to use the reins. He said that the Germans don't really get specific about how the rider should use their hands, while the French do.
Bruce, 'descente de main' means 'release the reins' or better, 'release your hold on the reins'. Ditto, 'descente de jambes' means 'take your leg off' or 'stop squeezing the horse with your legs'. This is made abundantly clear in Beaudant's report of his correspondence with Faverot de Kerbrecht concerning this phrase as used by Baucher.
The older, and far better, name for what you are calling 'oberstreichen' is "showing the horse the way to the ground." It has nothing in and of itself to do with descente de main, because one does not release the reins in order to induce the horse to perform this stretch-in-motion. Rather, one combs the reins, which is to say, plays the reins as one would play a big bass fish who is hooked but wants to run the line; one puts one's thumb against the reel to produce a certain amount of friction, which might vary from less to greater depending upon the feel that the fish gives.
This is not a mystery to the person who will practice rather than merely intellectualize and talk ABOUT it rather than getting out there and trying it. And remember, it is absolutely crucial that while playing or combing the reins, that you keep your hands UP -- the hands must be at the level of the rider's natural waist, or higher, and the rider's elbows must be bent. Not only is it impossible to play the reins without a bend in the elbow -- once you try doing this, Bruce, you will find that the horse's reaction is quite strong and may surprise you. That head will go RIGHT down -- but NEVER if you lower your hands, i.e. try to pull it down.
In showing the horse the way to the ground, you are SHOWING him, not forcing him or putting him or shaping him. He must shape himself, and he will, with pleasure, if you will just permit him. Remember: 'descente de main' means "stop pulling", "stop putting backwards pressure on the reins". Playing the reins involves this but you don't drop the reins abruptly; instead retain a certain amount of feel, which is supportive but in no way restrictive -- something the horse can enjoy, respond to, and work with. -- Dr. Deb