I expect, at some time, you have been in a lesson, and you have been told to:
‘Half Halt!! …. No… HALF HALT!’
And you are riding with a slightly glazed look trying to work out what the hell you are meant to be doing! Happens more than you think, and we get too embarrassed to actually ask… How do I do half halt and how do I know I have actually achieved it???
It’s like not being able to remember someone’s name, and it gets to embarrassing to ask after a week or so….. here is how I think of half Halts
First the why…
Half Halts can be used for increasing engagement, balance, preparation for a change of movement, and refocusing the horse.
What is it exactly?
For me, a half halt is creating a moment of anticipation within the horse.
What does it feel like?
A moment of hesitation in the rhythm of the movement. If you drive a manual or stick shift car, it’s like looking for the clutch point.
And the how…
Before you can half halt, you need to understand how to perform the halt with your seat and leg rather than the hand.
First make sure your horse is responsive to your aids and is thinking forward. And you are also relaxed and moving with your horse. The continue with the driving analogy make sure the parking/ hand break is off!
As you ask your horse to halt, engage you core and seat and draw yourself up tall, this is creating a ‘block’ for the movement of your horse.
Once you feel that halt start to happen, relax you seat and apply your leg and ask your horse to move forward.
The key point is that the horse has responded to the aids and is listening for the next instructions. The momentory ‘block’ of the forward movement encourages the horse to bring their quarters more underneath them and to become more engaged and to ‘await further instructions’ from the rider.
Half Halts can range from very subtle, to basically a halt, and it will depend on the situation and what the following request to the horse is, will determine the strength and duration of the movement. This is something that you and your horse needs to work out together!