06-05-2009, 12:02 PM
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Okay, the first problem I see in many of my students who have had some riding experience before they come here is that many of them have NO idea that there is more to a half halt then to pull the reins!
A half halt is an aide that incorporates many of our aides, not just our hands. Its not about pulling the horses face down, rather encouraging him to seek out the contact with the bit. It should be soft and light, not heavy and bracing. To half-halt you will add your leg, close your knee and thigh slightly, sit deep, bring the shoulders back a bit, slightly tighten your abs and lower back and then increase the pressure on the outside rein (the amount of pressure necessary will vary depending on several factors- only apply as much as needed to get the desired result) Your inside rein should only be engaged enough to keep the horse straight and with a squeeze and release - not a steady hold or you will allow the horse to hang or pull on it. This will be a process that will take between 2 and 5 seconds....
Most horses who already want to GO will only go faster if you just hang on the rein. It MUST be a give and take. If you are sure the horse understands pressure, then you may have to "turn up the volume", make a quick correction, then give and allow the horse to carry himself and respond. Sometimes we are afraid to get after our horses, so instead of making it clear what we want in a quick/slightly stronger correction, we nag at them by pulling or giving a bunch of half-hearted corrections.
The best place to start, as someone mentioned below, is at the walk. Get your horse to the point where you can walk/halt with very little to no use of the rein. When you've got that, move to the trot/walk/halt. Use a corner or wall if you need to.... ask a couple steps before the corner.
Another thing is reinforce with verbal commands. If you can teach the horse a good 'whoa' on the lunge and he knows 'walk, trot, canter' verbally, you can reinforce when you ask with your body.
Another thing you can do if you are far enough along in your education to be comfortable doing so, is go into a shoulder out or shoulder in. This takes much more effort from the horse and almost always results in a shift to the hindquarters and a more balanced, controlled tempo.
And, remember, this is a long process...good training doesn't happen overnight. It takes time, consistancy, patience and determination to get a truely intune horse.
Good luck! :)