What is a half-halt anyway?

In the equestrian world, a half-halt is used to rebalance your horse, to bring his awareness back to you, to signal a change in direction/tempo/movement.  It is a go-forward, come-back fraction of a second command.  A breath or thought.  But movement is also involved, though if done correctly, a typical spectator would never notice.

This isn’t the time for all of you riders out there (who most likely know a lot more than I do) to quibble about my choice of words.  This is an attempt to explain to a non-rider why they might enjoy this blog, even if all they know about horses is that they have a head, a tail and four feet.  Speaking of My Blog… I have geldings.  Thus for the sake of simplicity, I will be referring to horses in male terminology.  I know that there are mares out there in the horse world.  God bless you if you love one.  I’ve been told that a good mare will do anything for you.  I have yet to meet a mare that has won my heart – not to say that there isn’t one out there.  But for now, I’m a gelding kind of gal.

So why this blog?  Let me start by saying that half-halts are used in many, if not all, equestrian disciplines.  I love dressage.  Dressage is flat work (meaning there’s no jumping involved).  There are also no cows involved – this is not rodeo, though bucking does sometimes happen in unfortunate moments.  Dressage at the lower levels is BORING to watch.  Enter at A, halt at X, walk on, track right at C, trot at M, 20 meter circle at A, change rein, 20 meter circle at C, free walk, halt and salute at X, if I’m remembering correctly.  Bonus points to the first person to name the test.

For the past few years I have worked with a trainer who is highly demanding.  Though I was bringing in the blue ribbons, I grew increasingly anxious as I started working up through the levels.  Let me be PERFECTLY clear:  I’m not an advanced rider.  I’m working on Level One/Two skills.  But I stopped riding for myself and began riding for the trainer.  It was no longer fun.  I enjoyed the hard work of it, but being screamed at while being told to relax wasn’t working for me.  I was riding amazing horses, but I felt unworthy of them. So I’ve started taking lessons with a western trainer. He doesn’t care what I look like (clearly, because he is an ugly rider which he happily admits).  My goal is to start riding for myself, to enjoy the time and connect with the horse.  Dressage is the pursuit of unattainable perfection.  I’m not giving up on that, I’m just taking a breath and rebalancing. Maybe there’s a better way..  My mindset became that I could never ride independently without a trainer there to correct my mistakes.  I lost all confidence in myself.

So I decided it was time for my own half-halt.  To rebalance myself and regain my confidence.  Let me be clear that my confidence has nothing to do with sitting on top of a horse.  I’m not afraid of being hurt or falling off.  That happens.  They are BIG animals with minds of their own.  And at 5’10,” I prefer big warmbloods, not little ponies.  All the farther to fall, my dear.


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