Can you put into words what the half halt is? Let’s say you are speaking with your friend, who is not a horsey person, and you’re telling her all about the half halt. What would you say? This week I had two eye-opening conversations. One with a rider and one with my sister… I drew a similar conclusion from both conversations.
My conclusion? There are a whole lot of riders out there who don’t really know what the half halt is, or why everyone goes on and on about it…
So, back to you and your version of the half halt… It might be easier to start with what it is not. A half of a halt! But, you knew that, didn’t you. And yet, there are many riders who are surprised at that. “It’s kind of slowing down, but not actually letting the horse stop…, I think…” No, that’s not quite it.
What is the Half Halt
The half halt is a few things in riding. However, we can simplify things by dividing the purpose of the half halt into three simple categories
1. An effective ‘intercom’ system between you and your horse
2. A little ‘fixer-upper’
3. An effective way to help you and your horse maintain balance, focus, and forwardness
I am a firm believer that most riders can take the number of current half halts they ride every time they’re in the saddle and double or triple that number. And that is just to get started with! We are simply not doing enough half halts. And the irony is, that when you are getting started with it, the more you do, the less you will have to do it later.
The half halt is really one of those things that you can do a lot of the work up front and reap the benefits later.
1. “Can I Have Your Attention Please”
Notice it is not a question, but rather a statement. The intercom does not say, “erm, excuse me, erm, can you listen to what I’m about to say please?”. No, the Ding Dong that goes before the announcement is just that. A noticeable and interrupting Ding Dong. And thank goodness for that! Can you just imagine how many flights, buses, trains alone would be missed if it merely ‘asked’ for your attention, rather than simply demanding it?!
Your half halt is your Ding Dong to your horse. It is your way of telling your horse that you are about to say something of importance and he had best listen and pay attention.
Now, obviously, just like the Ding Dong, it is your horse’s choice as to whether or not he listens. However, over time, as you begin to really consistently work on your timing and your effectiveness of your Ding Dong, you will get a higher ‘effectiveness’ rating.
Your job is to begin making sure that whatever you are following up your half halt with, is clearly communicated and worth your horses time and attention to listen to.
2. Whoops! Let’s Get Back on Track; Shall We?
The second use of the half halt is to help correct when things go a little ‘wonky’ or go wrong. It is an effective way to regroup and, from this newly focused place, continue on the journey. And that is a key piece of information; continue on.
You see, the half halt is not the end. It is not a stop. It is simply a ‘let’s all get on the same sheet and move forwards again’.
Every ride you have is a little like a patchwork quilt. A piece where things worked. Then a break. Then a piece where it worked again. Followed by another adjustment. It is a continuous course correction. From the first stride to the last. The half halts, in this case, are the joins that help get you onto the next block.
3. Let’s Maintain This While We Can…
The third use of the half halt is to balance or rebalance your horse and yourself in the saddle. Things are still ‘on track’ and going as you would like. However, there is something coming up that might require a little more attention. A little more finesse. There is a chance that things could go wrong…
You can use a quiet, refined half halt to help ‘steady the ship’ and ride through something that might otherwise result in you losing the energy, forwardness, and rhythm of the movement. In this case, the half halt simply acts as a reminder for both horse and rider to focus.
It helps you both to work together as a team in order to maintain what you are doing at that moment.
Adding To, Not Taking From, the Conversation
The half halt is rarely a ‘one time only’ event.
It is so important to remember that one half halt will almost never stand alone. There will be a few, in close and quick succession. Depending on how green the horse is or the rider’s aids are, there can be a lot more than a few in the same quick succession.
Smoothing out your half halts takes time. The half halt itself must be smooth and only contain as much energy as is needed for the purpose.
But between the half halts must also be smooth. And, often this has a steeper learning curve than the half halt itself. Failure to ‘smooth things out’ results in j.e.r.k.y and c.h.o.p.p.y riding for horse and rider. Yes, the half halt will be effective, however, it also takes from the whole conversation.
Most riders don’t struggle with the half halt. They struggle to balance the half halt. To balance their aids and the application of their aids with what is required at that exact moment in the conversation.
This is why no two half halts will be the same…
If you would like more help with your half halts, join me inside of Connection today.
Additional Resources for Equestrians:-
- FREE Half Halt Training Audio
- The Aids to Ride the Half Halt
- Harnessing the Power of the Half Halt
- Improving Your Ride with the Half Halt
- Understanding and Refining Your Half Halt
- Your Half Halt on the Ground with Your Horse
- Connection in Your Riding; Your Seat and Legs
- Connection; My Online Membership for Equestrians
- Online community for equestrians working on their mindset & fitness
- Online Community for equestrians focusing on re-schooling horses (and ex-racehorses
Instantly improve your half half