The Half Halt and the Half Stop
The half halt is different from the half stop. I like to clarify this difference in both my teaching and my riding. The half stop is a corrective tool that says, for example, “Please stop leaning,” or “You’re not doing this well enough.” A half stop is a fix—a correction—that re-establishes the horse’s balance or refocuses his attention on the aids. That fixing, by the way, might be needed, but it’s something different from a half halt.
In contrast, the half halt is fine-tuning and finessing, rather than fixing. A half halt is a beautiful thing that says, “Let’s keep the dance going.” When you’re watching a pair on the dance floor, you never see a moment of tension or stiffness. The half halt is a finessed communication between horse and rider that allows fine tuning to happen.
When the judge says he wants to see more half halts, he doesn’t want more fixes; he wants more finetuning and preserving what’s already good. The half halt should help the horse before he loses his balance. Ride more half halts when the horse is good. Don’t wait until you lose quality because then it’s too late.