The Effective Half Halt

Real Life Rider Question: My struggle at the moment is how I can get my horse off her forehand.  Any exercises / tips gratefully received.

Response : Sometimes I see …

  1. horses on the forehand (O.T.F.) because the rider is allowing him to get support from leaning on the reins.  This is the first point to check.
  2. the rider actually putting the horse onto the forehand by driving so much with the legs and seat in the hopes that the horse will engage.  Are you under this misconception?
  3. a lazy horse in need of geeing up!

Whatever I am looking at the answer lies in transitions and the effective half-halt.

As always … lots of Transitions

I am a big advocate of transitions and their influence on the horses way of going.  So, how many will help in this exercise? well …. at least 6 transitions per lap of the arena!

Once the horse starts to respond to the upward/downward questions of the transitions – even anticipates a little – he will already be less O.T.F.

The upward transition should be crisp and immediate.  No compromises.  Do not accept a sloppy transition by doing so you are allowing your horse to be O.T.F.

The Effective Half Halt


Think about the half-halt as a balancing aid and use the half-halt before you ask your horse to do anything.

The half halt is a very important influence in making your horse obedient, balanced and up in his way of going.  Yet becoming skilled in the half-halt is Sooooooo difficult and I am yet to find a simple explanation as to how it can be achieved.

I have attempted an explanation, but for me it is still far too complicated … I will work on it and come up with something for you, I promise – It is my quest, to communicate the half-halt – crystal clear!!!!!!

So, firstly all of the following happens in a fraction of a second and you need to be very, very subtle.

  • The Seat Element of the half halt.

    • Move your tailbone (coccyx) forward while keeping your lower back flat and straight.
    • Your crotch or pubic arc presses forward to the pommel.
  • The Hand Element of the half-halt.

    • Your fingers should be relaxed when holding the reins ordinarily, closed but relaxed – now, in the half-halt, close your ring finger on the outside hand a little more.
    • As the horse feels your resisting hand he should back off the bit slightly.
    • Instantly reward – relax the ring finger.
  •  The Leg Element of the half-halt.

    • Close your legs gently and momentarily, asking for forwardness.

Remember to be steady in the hand. The goal is to train your horse to expect a request from you (change of rein, transition, change of bend).  Developing communication with your horse through half-halts will assist any balance issues enormously.

So for me the half-halt is a combination of seat/hand/leg co-ordination, which tells the horse, I’m going to ask you something different and it asks the horse to slow, momentarily and go forward (stop and go all at once) thereby helping to transfer his weight to his hindquarters.

Hope this helps, if you need any further motivation select School Exercises from the Category list on the sidebar.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster








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