There are many elements to the half pass which can go wrong but the good news is that 90% of the issues can be dealt with really easily. The solution to many half pass issues is energy. It is essential that you create sufficient energy in your horse for him to flow across the arena without labouring. Fact is, it is simply not worth beginning a half pass if your horse’s gait is not energetic as you enter the movement, it will fade, become stuttery, lose bend and just be a ‘puffed up’ leg yield. It is crucial there is no loss of rhythm, tempo or impulsion throughout the movement and this can only be achieved if your horse is forward and energetic.
I am constantly amazed at how the very, very small things make such a huge, huge difference. Here’s one of those such things.
If you are struggling to get a soft flowing travers (Haunches In), turn your inside hand over slightly (like turning a key). It must be very subtle so as not to draw the horse to the inside or bend the horse’s neck … but OMG! What a difference it makes.
Other essential elements are forwardness and ensuring that you are not crooked with your upper body, but try the hand thing. It’s a gem!
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster
Other Eureka moments include :
The debate on whether to leg yield or not is not a new one. Certainly Classical Dressage purists sit firmly on the side of the fence that says leg yield has no benefits to the scale of training whatsoever and may even hinder progress.
So how you do reconcile this when the movement is asked for in tests? I do not know the answer to this question. It is a matter for you to consider when you examine the horses ability to progress beyond training/elementary level.
The primary benefit of leg yield is to simply teach your horse to move forwards and sideways, however, the hind quarters do not take more weight and the horse finds it difficult to remain light in the forehand (often the act of leg yielding puts the horse onto the forehand!)
Shoulder-in, travers (or haunches in) and half-pass are far superior exercises to the leg yield because all three of these exercises ensure that the horse’s centre of gravity is placed directly in the path of the activated hind leg.
Riders at all levels should seek to become skilled at these exercises due to the fact that, done well, they significantly benefit the horse’s gymnastic ability.
Patricia – The Dressage Tipster
Looseness is the essential aim of the preliminary training phrase and by this I mean relaxation of all of the joints and muscles. Only when your horse is supple can he create impulsion, be straight and have balance with a swinging back and self-carriage. Looseness is not achieved overnight, particularly if you have started with a horse that has a degree of stiffness anywhere in its body and/or legs. Laterally the horse should be able to bend his body from poll to tail without falling in on the shoulder or swinging out the haunches. The only means you have for acquiring lateral suppleness in your horse is lateral bending.
Longitudinally (length-wise), the horse’s joints should bend and straighten equally on each side of its body with each stride; he should be able to lengthen and shorten whilst maintaining rhythm.With supple muscles comes strength.It is the act of contracting and stretching the muscles that makes them strong and supple and it is with bending and flexing exercises; lengthening and shorting of the paces that we can do this. Here’s what to do … whatever your level of training try to incorporate shoulder-fore, shoulder-in, renvers and quarter turns into your warm up and regular traiing. It will serve you will to master these lateral movements in the early stages of your training.Play a little with lengthening and shortening your horse’s paces too.Just like your own stretching regime! cough, cough! Your horse will benefit from exercises which are intended to stretch and contract the muscles, but you must do it regularly and keep it up, otherwise he will become sore.