The Half halt clarified
A common term: “the half halt”, but ask horse owners what it means and only a few can explain it. When training your horse, it is up to you as a trainer to always let the horse find its balance again. We use the half halt as a means to rebalance.
As the horse is actually constantly on the move, we as a trainer must also monitor that the horse retains its suppleness, posture, pace, ‘takt and swung’, and here too we use the half halts.
Half halts to feel
You feel lightness in your hand when the horse moves correctly in balance (with the right tension in the spine and with the hind legs swinging towards the center of gravity). The horse gives when you put minimal pressure on the contact you have through the rein or the cavesson.
Now that you know this, you can also test whether your horse is moving correctly by asking with your hand whether your horse can yield/gives on minimal pressure you exert.
How does this work:
– you close your hand as if you gently squeeze out a sponge.
– the horse responds to this “pressure” by yielding/giving
– you open your hand again (as if the sponge regains its normal shape)
– the horse responds by searching for the contact with your hand.
Correspondence half halt and correct movement
If all goes well it should go as described above.
You make a half halt via the rein or the nose band of the cavesson to check whether your horse comes forward well with his inner hind leg and steps under the center of gravity (center of his abdomen).
If this is the case, it also means that the inside hip of the horse comes forward a little and therefore the horse also has the correct lateral bend. The body of the horse is contracted a bit by the muscles on the inside and that is why the horse responds to the pressure of the rein, cavesson or lunge. The contact with the mouth / nose (in the case of bitless) of the horse is therefore an indicator of how the hindleg moves and if the horse is in balance.
If it is not right, then the horse will not give/yield ‘after’ a half halt and it will remain stiff in the contact with your hand. This means that the horse is out of balance. If the contact feels stiff, it means that the hindleg does not come forward properly and under the center of gravity. If the contact feels light, this means that the balance is good and the hind leg is stepping under correctly.
Hopefully these tips can help you with the half halt.