The Half Halt and the Half Stop

Dressage Today - - The Clinic -

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.

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