Do you know what it means when a horse halts?
The halt is when your horse is immobile and not moving. Your instructor may ask you to whoa, stop or halt which all mean the same thing. The halt is a demonstration of the horse’s obedience. Before moving on with riding you will need to know how to do a basic stop.
What does a good halt look like?
A good halt is when a horse not only stops moving but also stands square with his weight distributed evenly over all four legs. Your horse’s hooves should form a perfect square (more like rectangle) with a hoof at each corner. The profile view of your horse would appear as if it only has two legs.
Progression of Learning the Halt
When you are first learning the halt, simply standing still is acceptable. As you get more skilled with your riding and you are able to get the horse to stand still and relaxed then you want to start working on straightness in the horse. After you can halt the horse straight without tension, you would then learn halting while on the bit or as I like to call it on the aids. After that you then want to learn halting the horse square or balanced over his four feet.
Progression of the Halt
- Stand still and relaxed
- Stand still, relaxed and straight
- Stand still, relaxed, straight and on the aids
- Stand still, relaxed, straight, on the aids and square
*As you are just starting out, just focus on getting your horse to stand still and relax.
How To Ask The Horse To Halt
You want to prepare and signal subtly to your horse that you are going to ask for a transition. In the approach to the halt give squeezes with your seat and abdominal muscles and at the same time a few light squeezes of the reins. You don’t want the horse to lose his energy but you want the horse to get ready for the transition to the halt.
2) Halt Transition from the Walk
As a beginner I would you ask for the halt from the walk until you got more experienced. I find this approach is best because you are still learning to develop the correct seat, balance and use of aids.
3) Signals for the Halt
Squeeze your seat or your butt so you stop moving your hips with the horse’s walk. You casn say whoa in a low voice with the word whoa a little drawn out.Close your fingers and squeeze backward. The horse should stop as he feels your seat and the backward pull on the reins. Hold your seat and reins until the horse stops.
As soon as the horse halts immediately release the pressure on your reins and relax your seat. As you improve you will rely more on your seat than on your reins and voice command.
TIP: Breathe out in your downward transition. If you hold your breathe your body will tense up.
As You Progress
Ideally you will want the horse to move into the halt with your hands forward and horse listening to your seat, stepping under himself into a square halt
DO YOU HAVE ANY TROUBLE WITH THE HALT? I WILL BE WRITING AN ARTICLE ON COMMON PROBLEMS IN THE HALT. FEEL FREE TO COMMENT BELOW WHAT YOU ARE STRUGGLING WITH.
Cheers and God Bless!