What is a half halt?
I recently overheard a couple of English riders talking about half halts. From the context of their conversation I gathered it was not a p*** poor stop! This old cowboy could use some education.
I was taught that a half-halt is a little warning that something's about to happen. My coach taught us to sit up, give and take a little with the reins, maybe a little leg depending, and then do whatever you were going to do (turn, transition etc.)
Interested to see what others say on this.
A half halt is basically giving and taking of the reins. Like for a hard stop, you would pull back on the reins and keep contact, but with a half halt you do on/off contact. There would also be other seat and leg cues involved.
Look at post 2
Half halt is one of those things that you'll get 100 different explanations of how to apply it. It's primary purpose is to rebalance the horse. Spyder's articles are very in depth, so I'll leave it at that.
Just to take what Spyder says and put it in "cowboy-ish" terms. A half halt to the general public can be anything that clues the horse into your seat and legs, or tells them that something is going to happen. It could be a weight shift, taking up a little slack in the reins, even just wiggling your hand if your horse is on the drape. In dressage it is usually as spyder says a whole body thing, but that's not saying a horse going western on the drape can't be half halted. When you're riding your horse and you're getting ready to ask for a canter you generally close your legs a little and pick up on the reins lightly to get them ready and open up the shoulder, then you cue the canter right? That little picking up on the reins and closing of the legs is a form of half halt. A half halt in the barest form is sending energy from the hind end through to the bit and then you determine how much of it is forward energy and then you continue on. So you could be sending a lot of forward energy from the hips to the bit and then holding that energy to get a round, uphill moving horse. Or you could be sending just enough to get them to come under with their hind end and then change gaits. It's all relative and not all half halts are through steady, firm contact. Although most horses, especially those still in training, are going to need some direct contact to be able to come under with their haunches and engage the whole horse without falling forward or rushing.
Thanks for responding. I am having a little problem understanding the difference between half halts and collection. I realize this is an oversimplification but I am thinking that it is a matter of degree and that half halts help achieve collection. Is that a reasonable assumption?
The conversation I overheard (I believe it was meant to be overheard) was between two older affluent women who have a Hanoverian (sp?) mare in training with my friend. He is an old cowboy himself. He is a talented trainer and like me only has experience with stock horses. Since the women moved a distance to stand in front of us and talk about half halts we kinda thought they were trying to teach us something. Part of our confusion was that they used half halt and self carriage more or less synonymously. I see a connection but don't understand them to be the same.
Spyder and NittanyEq I appreciate your help in trying to help me understand. I'll read the referred post again.
The half halt is a tool that maintains or corrects the carriage of the horse along with the other "tools" the rider can use ( legs, seat,voice).
Correct carriage is the result of half halts along with the driving seat and legs that guides the horse into adapting to the bit according to its level of training and physical ability.
So yes they are intertwined but not exactly the same.
Rod, what I've found is that Western riders just don't name many of the training corrections that they do. English riders have a name for all of it. I'm sure you and your buddy have been doing half halts but didn't realize you were.
It also seems that your Hanoverian owners were having their moment of "superiority" and were throwing out terms. It's not that you don't do them, you just don't name them.
Thanks iride! You just summed up what I was going to say in two sentences!
I would also like to point out Rod that it is the trick of novices to adopt one way of doing things and feel superior about their methods and training. A TRUE horseman in my book is always willing and able to adapt and learn with the times and the new information that is available to them. So if you happen to be starting a heavy headed colt in a snaffle then you can say oh yea...I can do that dressage thing with my body and my hands and I can get him off his forehand by pushing his hind end up into my hands. Then you go VOILA! I did dressage =)
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