Professional advice from Joanna Fisher – International Grand Prix Dressage Rider and Trainer: How to do the perfect halt…
This question covers a lot more than the halt. It is based on a number of factors- balance, rhythm, timing, preparation and persistence!
So in order to tackle all of these fundamental basics in one go and hopefully be achieving a good halt as the end result I shall keep it simple and explain what I would do.
First things first, I would work on my basic transition of trot- walk- trot walk and would keep repeating this exercise gradually using less and less of a rein/ leg aid and more of an upper body weight aid. Sitting slightly forward to move the horse forward with a soft hand and quiet lower leg squeeze and sitting back and lowering my hands with leg support for he downward transition…
So forward for forward movement and back for backward movement. Horses are very clever and repetition as always is key.
The voice is a free aid, don’t be shy to use it!
After a few transitions the horse will start predicting and this makes it easier and easier.
Once the trot walk is established- I would then start bringing or throwing in a few trot- halt- trot halt and this will also become more direct with repetition. Again using my seat and body weight over hand and leg. Don’t forget to praise and reward for the horse understanding!
Soon enough the transitions will become faster, smoother and more fluent…
Once this is established you can start working on the halt directly. If the horse swings left or right, correct with the leg, so for quarters going to the right- use your right leg a little stronger. Make sure this swinging is not coming from an uneven hand position or contact. Using a wall is useful as a straightness guide but working off the track will be far more beneficial at showing true straightness and making sure the horse is totally listening to you!
You will find when balance is good enough the halt will automatically become square! Remember to reward well for a good halt.
Joanna has written a collection of children’s books based on her horses over the years.
It has been published by award winning Candy Jar books and currently available in Waterstones and being read in schools. Click here to link to her website: www.stablegossip.com