The Elusive Half Halt

If you Google the term half halt, you will get 98,700,000 results.  Is that all?  One of the basic riding skills we should all master, but that is easier said than done for people like me.  Let me explain – I’m not the most coordinated person.  I did not participate in sports that required balls, unless it was necessary to pass gym class, since I lacked even rudimentary eye/hand coordination.  My mother enrolled me in ballet class hoping that it would help instill some degree of grace in my movement, but ended up calling me Grace because I had none.  The half halt requires a certain degree of coordination in order for it to be given effectively.  Squeeze legs, engage core, squeeze fingers with the correct amount of pressure, release, repeat as necessary.  Yeah, sure, just that easy.

Well as I predicted yesterday, I failed with my half halt timing today in my lesson.  We were working on square turns at the trot.  I rode three corners when I hear Ms. C ask, “How was your timing on that turn?”  Hmm, I could have tried fudging it and saying that I thought it was spot on, but I knew better.  “It was late.”  So I try again, this time with Ms. C’s direction.  It is always so easy when you have someone telling you when to do it.  Then the only thing you have to figure out is how loud that half halt needs to be for your horse to respond.  Ike and I are still working on the half halt scale.  Sometimes I have to be VERY LOUD with the half halt to affect any change – typically on Ike’s “lalalala, I can’t hear you” days.  Other times when I am that loud, Ike hears walk or halt.  Honest mistake.  We are a work in progress.

Worked on some lateral work after my half halt debacle.  Attempted shoulder fore and shoulder in.  We wavered between the two as well as being over bent and showing no bend or flexion whatsoever.  Ah, training a young horse with a big body.  While we are not confirmed in either shoulder in or shoulder fore, I am happy to report that Ike can hold the bend longer than he could 4 months ago.  Forward progress!  We then spent a short time with leg yield.  I have to report that the rider needs to be better coordinated with leg, seat, and hands to help Ike achieve better sideways movement.  When I do achieve the proper aid sequence, surprise, Ike’s movement improves.  I know, it is a shocking revelation.

The nice part of working on controlling Ike’s shoulders for the lateral movements is the improvement in his canter.  Wow, his transitions were lovely today.  We also could manage round circles…r-o-u-n-d.  It is amazing what you can do when you can control that outside shoulder.

Now if I can just duplicate the feeling on my own…


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