by Nancy O'Neill (aka M'Lady Violante d'Osteriche)
A half halt is useful in helping your horse to balance itself in order to
collect itself for, say, a change of gait, a jump, leg yield, change of lead (if
at canter)...etc. This command can be used in all gaits.
This command reminds them to use their back to haunches muscles...in other words, get off the forehand!! A horse that plows around on their forehand feels heavy in your hands and in the long run, can lead to a host of joint/muscle problems in themselves.
How to ask for it?
This should take place for one cadence, or stride.....for most effective use,
try a sitting trot and ask for a half halt every third stride....remember to sit
up so your shoulders/hips/heels are in a nice straight line. The horse will
start engaging the haunches and feel like there is a LOT of horse under you but,
very gentle in your hands.
I hope this helps or refreshes the memory of anyone who wants to continue with their harmonious riding.
I leave with a quote from Xenophon: "If you want your animal to shine, refrain from alternately spurring him on and then dragging on the bit, for by doing so, you upset him."
As needed in all gaits..here's an exercise to do with your horse!
After warm up:
rising trot one lap, sit and half halt every third stride, third stride will engage each diagonal of the horse
reverse direction same exercise...
next, from sitting trot with half halt, ask for canter , make sure it's a nice transition, no rush...half halt before asking for canter, remember to look slightly over your opposite shoulder of the lead you want to take, then, half halt every 3rd stride at canter....halt, walk, push to working walk, reverse, working walk, half halt, then trot, using half halts for 1/4 length of arena, then half halt canter.
The idea is to incorporate your half halts as needed. Every horse is different, but all can use it for the stride before a transition.
I forgot to add,,,this is useful for ALL riding "styles"...whether you choose
to sit in a western saddle, hunt saddle, endurance, dressage, etc.....If you
really want to be truly classical in your riding, ride with NO saddle!
And, the half halt can be done with reins in one hand. Make sure they are separated in a manner in your one hand that you can use either/both reins effectively.
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