Sprinkled, like confetti. This is how I think the half halt should be applied to your ride. Little ones that are really everywhere. None of them too big. Or ‘stand out’. Yet all of them working together to give the desired effect or result.
For many riders, the half halt, rather than being like confetti, becomes more like broadsheet newspapers scattered randomly around the arena. Not too many, some altogether. And not really having any use other than to make things look messy and unorganized.
How do you get your broadsheet size half halts to resemble a piece of confetti? You refine. And refine… The energy that you are putting into that one ‘big’ half halt (your standard broadsheet), divided up and divided amongst a whole lot of smaller, more refined half halt (your ‘confetti’).
Yes, I realize I am really oversimplifying something that so many riders struggle with, the trusty half halt. And yet, it really is that simple. It is riders ‘wanting’ to make it harder than it really is… That is the real struggle with the half halt. And they want to make it harder because, although it is simple, it is usually not that easy to grasp when actually riding.
I have spoken about the half halt a lot… It really and truly is a sticking point for so many riders. I won’t get into too much of the what and why (you can read about that HERE and HERE and HERE if you’re interested). Instead, I want to give you some practical tips you can use while riding to help you work on turning your half halt from a broadsheet to a tiny piece of confetti.
Light, lovely, and a feel-good sign for all who experience it.
Standing, Not Sitting
Do me a quick favor, will you? Wherever you are reading this right now, sit down if you can. Get comfy, settle in a little. Wiggle your seat bones. Distribute your weight… Notice your core. No, don’t change what you’re doing. Simply notice it. Not as ‘engaged’ as it could be, eh?! Unless you’re on a seat that requires a little more balance and focus.
For the most part, riders sit in the saddle like they do in a comfortable chair. Hunkered in and ‘relaxed’.
However, I want you to play with the feeling of ‘standing’ in the saddle, even though you are indeed sitting on your seat bones. So many riders will come with the excuse “I don’t have a strong core” or something similar. I use the word excuse there on purpose. If you can walk to the saddle to mount up, you are more than able to use your core while riding!
The key to actively using your core is to feel as though you are standing, even when you are sitting in the saddle.
Your Aids for the Half Halt
Once you are indeed carrying yourself and engaging your core, your half halt simply becomes a matter of applying your aids. The aids themselves are rarely the challenge. The issue riders struggle with is balancing those aids so that they get the result they are after.
There are three basic aids that, when applied in a balanced way, make up your half halt; your legs, your seat, and your hands
Often riders start out trying to ‘use’ their hands to get the point across to their horse, when, in fact, the hands are really the ‘end’ aid. They come last in the ‘sequence’ that I recommend using when riding the half halt. To use them before the other aids defeat the purpose and will result in a loss of forwardness, lightness, and balance. All of the things that we want to encourage or maintain in our riding.
The Sequence of Aids
Before applying any aids, I strongly suggest making sure that your overall position is as close to correct as you can get it. This will help your aids be clearer and, therefore, more effective when applied.
Correct position coupled with self-carriage (yes, from you the rider!), will allow you to make the best use of your aids.
In the most basic of explanations, the aids for half halt are:- legs, seat, hands. In that order. Legs allow you to both engage and encourage ‘forward’ thinking and action. Your seat allows you to then resist or deepen the connection in order to influence the flow of energy. Followed by your hands which gather the energy and, if necessary, help to re-engage it.
Timing Your Half Halt
Being able to actually ride a successful half halt comes down to basic coordination and timing. While there is a sequence with your aids, they all happen in a split second. I know, it is a big ask for many riders. The coordination it takes to make this happen can be a challenge for most initially.
Good practice is the key to begin smoothly and effortlessly using effective half halts in your ride.
And timing is not just about coordinating your aids. It also matters when you apply them. You want to use your aids when your horse is in the best possible position to respond to them. Asking questions or even getting your horse’s attention when he is not able to respond or answer leads to frustration for all.
I have created a free audio program for you to use when riding your horse in order to begin working on your half halt. You can get yours HERE
Yep, it does make perfect. The half halt is an ever-changing and evolving aid in your riding. No two will ever be the same. However, it is also something that you can literally improve with 20 minutes of focused, correct, practice.
So I’m going to challenge you to do just that and really help move your conversation forward.
Additional Resources for Equestrians:-
- FREE Half Halt Training Audio
- 3 Ways to Use the Half Halt in Your Riding
- 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