In this lesson, you're going to read about three additional ways to control your horse. One way is
through the half halt. Another is to collect your horse, also known as getting your horse onto the
bit. A third is by learning to handle evasions -- that is, when a horse doesn't do what you ask or
develops bad habits to avoid work.
For this lesson, your instructor may saddle you with a horse that is particularly likely to evade. At
my barn, that horse is Waffle.
Waffle is a cross between a Quarter Horse and a type of Draft known as a Belgian -- hence the
name (Belgian) Waffle. She reigns as queen of the pasture. Don't dare try to give another horse a
carrot without taking one along for her. If you do, she'll run all the other horses off and grab the
She also hates for the shutters on her stall to be closed. If she hears you coming with food and the
shutter is closed, she'll knock it open and knock you over with the force of a gale wind.
Under saddle, she has evasions down to a science. She's figured out very well what the rider will
and will not allow, and she'll test you at every turn. She'll make you want to drop riding and take up
golf. But then, miraculously, she'll give you a beautiful ride. Her fantastic conformation makes her a
very smooth mount. Why does she behave like this? She's really a very talented horse, but
The Half Halt
Previously, in lesson 3, you learned that a half halt is just what it sounds like: It's half a halt and can
be used to slow down a horse. But the half halt also serves another very important purpose: to let the
horse know you're going to ask her to do something different, such as pick up a different gait or turn a
corner. The half halt is one of the most important aids that you will use.
To understand the half halt, think of it as equivalent to clearing your throat or raising your hand to get
someone's attention. It primes the person to receive your message. With a horse, you use the half
halt to say, "Waffle, pay attention, I'm going to give a new command now." Or sometimes, "Waffle, I
know what you're thinking about doing and want you to cut it out."
To further understand the half halt, first review the basic aids to the halt:
Aids to Halt
1. Sit down.
2. Set your hands.
3. Close your legs on the horse.
4. Push with your back into your hands.
How you execute the half halt depends on the desired result. In other words, it can be very, very mild
or very, very harsh. Choosing the intensity comes under the heading of "horseman's tact." This is
something you learn over time while riding and will vary with the horse's personality.
During one lap around the ring, good riders will always give at least eight half halts. How is this
possible? Because there are four corners in a ring. There's a half halt before you enter the corner to
create a bend, and a half halt after the corner, to straighten the horse. Obviously, since there are
four corners, that equals eight half halts. But practically speaking, eight is a small number.
In a small ring -- say, 60 by 120 feet -- a professional rider probably will give 30 to 40 half halts in one
lap. Why? Because before each command he prefaces it by a half halt to get the horse's attention.
Try this out. Ask Waffle to trot around the ring. Think ahead! Before you ask her to bend around the
corner, give her a half halt. Now around the corner you go. As you come out of the corner, half halt
again before ;you ask her to straighten out.
Practice your half halts at the corners going both ways around the ring. If you practice enough, half
halts, too, will become as natural as using the turn signal when your car approaches a corner.
|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049