Straight line halt tips?
I've recently started cantering over ground poles and doing straight line halts after I've cantered over them. I'm not having much trouble stopping the horse or getting over the poles, but my stops are pretty sloppy. I'll canter over the first pole, keep the rhythm steady through to the second pole, and after the second pole I go to stop. But the thing is, when I stop, the horse does this stutter step and side-to-side swinging motion with his body -- it looks really messy. I don't blame him at all, I believe it's my own problems with stopping him. I need to be able to get his body collected more underneath me and more stable. Also, when cantering, I've been having a little trouble opening up my upper body while staying centered and deep in the saddle at the same time. Any advice would be great. Thanks!
Best guess is you are not transitioning from the canter aids to the stop aids fluidly.
Most people stop the canter aids,shift their body to give the stop aids and apply them. The problem here is that the horse does not stop forward movement and does not prepare itself for your stop request because you are busy shifting yourself. In effect you stopped giving any sort of preparatory cue.
You need to be more seamless in your aid giving so the horse can prepare, even if it means a trot step or two.
Yeah, I think that's probably my main issue. I think when I'm riding the poles I stay too concentrated on maintaining pace and getting over the poles without hesitation that I don't really think about stopping until after I get over the poles. I also seem to have a problem with sitting down properly and stopping -- more often that not I find myself elevated above the saddle when trying to stop because I am thrown forward by the motion, when I know instead I should be sitting deeply to cue the stop. What would you suggest in giving stop cues?
Keep your hands quiet and steady, only moving them forward to follow the motion that will come with the horse adjusting itself. Don't throw away the reins or pull back.
Wait for the stop and don't try top stop in any one spot. Give her time to find the right balance to make the stop under her own efforts. If there is a breaking of gait during the transition don't try to correct by demanding it be done right away. Allow a few trot steps, it is no big deal in the beginning.
As a reward, lighten the reins after the stop is achieved. Prevents restlessness also.
I just watched a George Morris clinic a couple weeks ago, and one thing he made everyone do was halt in a straight line after poles or a jump. It was amazing to watch all the funky sorts of things people do when they halt!
George was instructing everyone to sit down and back to halt, raise their hands (but not pulling up or back) and keep both legs on to keep the horse straight. He got them to stop into the rail at first to make it easier, and then he had them stopping in other random places throughout the jump course. Another thing he said was to make the stop a smooth motion over 2 or 3 strides, so it's not abrupt and jerking the horse to a halt. So it should be more like stride, sit up and back, stride, raise your hands, stride close your leg as the horse halts. Once they get the hang of it they should start to halt as soon as you sit down and back.
Hope this helps:)
ALL above is useful advice. I would add that we push hard to get our horses to want to charge to the fence and over that they forget about listening to your halt aids. THIS is why 3 day eventing includes Dressage. It shows obedience to aids.
I would suggest that you go back to schooling on the flat. Teach your horse to listen to your WEIGHT aids, by practicing them. Also, Start with half-halting and transitioning down, canter to collected canter to posting trot to collected, sitting trot, free walk to collected walk, to full HALT for at LEAST 15 seconds, then back 4 steps, halt on loose rein. You need to give your horse a chance to realize that this is also part of what is expected. After jumping courses awhile horses get really heady and they pride themselves on doing the jumping job right. You want to keep that and train for the other.
Additionally, break up the retraining by asking in different places in the arena. Add side passing. Halt with the nose in the corner, and turn on the haunches to change reins. Halt after a corner, back to the corner and turn on the forehand to change reins. Serpentines between and around the poles on the ground. If you horse gets REALLY confused by any of this, dismount and cue and lead slowly to teach an exercise, then re mount and try again. =D
If you don't understand how to correctly half-halt, please post and somebody here will explain. (I'm busy with business so I may be offline.)
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