I have been taking lessons for a couple of years now. I do not own my own horse, I ride the school horses at my barn. My riding instructor is really great. I'm kind of stuck though – I don't understand half halts. I understand how to do them. I just don't understand when and why to use them. Can you explain this to me more clearly?
Dear Confused About Half Halts,
Congratulations! Your instructor must think you have reached a certain skill level to be teaching you half halts. Half halts require an independent seat and hands. Having an independent seat and hands is a skill that takes a lot of hard work and time in the saddle to perfect.
Why do we half halt? Think of a half halt as a tool you can use for many different things. You can use a half halt before a transition to let your horse know you are about to ask them for something different.
A half halt can be used to help slow a quick horse, rather than hauling on both reins. A little half halt on the outside rein and sitting deep can help slow your horse. Remember none of us will ever stop a horse by yanking back on the reins. If we do, it is just dumb luck! A thousand-pound animal has more strength than any rider can force to do anything.
By using half halts on a spooky horse, you can use them to get your horses attention back on you instead of just bopping around the ring, riding the rail and letting your horse look around. Half hats help you say to your horse "hey pay attention to me", and it can be used as a way to refocus your horse on the task at hand.
Half halts can also be used as a way to help balance your horse. If your horse is heavy on the forehand, you can sit back, put your leg on and half halt. This will hopefully help you get your horse to rock his weight back over his hindquarters and lighten up in the front end.
These are all examples of times when using a half halt can be just what you need to get your horses attention.
It is something that you have to practice. A skill you have to hone and perfect. Now that you know when it can be used, your instructor will hopefully be able to help you perfect it and put it to good use!
Best Of Luck To You,