• VOLUME 64 • © HORSES For LIFE™ Magazine
Heuschmann Interview- We are pleased to finally present this two part interview with Dr. Heuschmann.
[HFL]: Hello Dr. Heuschmann, this is Nadja with Horses For Life.
[Dr. Gerd Heuschmann]: Hi.
[HFL]: Dr. Heuschmann, there’s something I want to ask you today. What if someone were to come up to you and ask, “What do you want to do with the next part of your life? You have been very busy. And you have been actively campaigning for the benefit of the horses. You have gone around the world teaching. And you’ve also had an opportunity to work with a lot of different horsemen and see a lot of different horses at work, from Anja Beran to Philippe Karl to Dominique Barbier. What do you want to do next?”
[Dr. Gerd Heuschmann]: Well, my dream is to calm down a little bit, to stay at home. Find a few nice horses and to train and own horses. And work with a few people, you know, to do it at home and to slow everything down in my life. This is what I try to teach: to slow down with the horses. I am not yet ready to slow down with my life, and yet I have to. It’s really tiring as it is.
[HFL]: It takes a lot out of you. Do you have any horses at home right now?
[Dr. Gerd Heuschmann]: At home, I’m breeding with a friend. The last riding horse I had, I gave it away two or three years ago because there is no time to do a good job.
A few years ago, there was a point in my life where I had to make a decision. I did a presentation that was seen all over the world. And suddenly people came up with questions and said, ok, talking is one thing. Everything is logical, but can you show us? At this point, I did not ride regularly because of my job as a veterinarian. And I had to make the decision, do I take the challenge and sit on a horse and try to show what I am talking about, or shouldn't I do it? As you imagine, it can also be a disaster. So I said, ok, I opened my mouth and spoke up so I have to try it. I have no choice. To talk is one thing and to do is another. And now, meanwhile, 10 or 15 years later, I routinely give people the feel. And this is a big, big part of my message that I can show people what a soft back, a chewing mouth, a soft poll, feel like. And I can not show this via internet.
I have to have them feel their own horse. When they feel it, they know what I’m talking about. This is, I think, the best way to show people. I have to do this now until they feel that there is no need to pull on the rein, and push with the seat, and to push with the legs. I hate this sentence “stick and more leg!” When they feel that with a soft seat, with a soft, sensitive leg, they can show their horse what they want and they get a nice-looking, wonderful swing, and a horse willing to work and doing nice piaffe. You can get a very good result which looks almost the same to a not very educated person. And this is our problem. A tense horse doing something that looks spectacular versus a well trained horse on a soft seat looks spectacular too. The rider has to feel. It’s much easier, better, softer, more harmonious....everything you want. Everything our rules tell us, you can do it. It’s not just a saying. It is a fact. It is reality. And this is what we don’t have at the moment.
[HFL]: No, we don’t. We’re not even close, are we?
[Dr. Gerd Heuschmann]: I’m sure you know about the first page of the dressage rules on the FEI website. You want harmonious education....
[HFL]: And article 401 about the supple poll and the poll being the highest point of the horse.
[Dr. Gerd Heuschmann]: It sounds so good, so wonderful.
[HFL]: And it can be.
[Dr. Gerd Heuschmann]: Yes! We have the rules, but people give high marks for the opposite. This is what I can not understand. Where is our culture? Where is it? Many, many of the professors are teaching the training scales - rhythm, suppleness...where is suppleness?
[HFL]: Where is bend? None of the horses have bend. They are straight.
[Dr. Gerd Heuschmann]: Yes, they have no rhythm. They have no bend. They have no flexion at the poll. They have no throughness. They are not on the seat. They [the riders] are sitting on the bench, a beer garden bench and making the horses do some funny looking things. That is not dressage. And you know, if you stand in front of a crowd and try to explain, everybody says, yes, he’s right. Then they go home and pull on the horse, and push.
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