In our lesson with trainer C yesterday we started working on half-halts. I've been aware for a long time that our half-halts didn't really exists and were more of a "hey, slow the hell down for just one second" whilst using lots of hand kinda thing. I was delighted that by the end of our lesson Rose was really listening to half-halts from my seat and making tiny incremental changes as asked. She had a lovely balanced trot, with a nice slow rhythmic tempo, and we made lots of little half-halts through the gate. It is so fun to work with Rose when she "gets" it. She's so proud of herself that it is just adorable. In addition she is so smart that she hangs onto everything she just learned. I know when I go out to ride her today that those half-halts will still be there, and I full intend to keep working on them for a while.
So what did we do?
- Starting out trotting we did trot-walk transitions entirely from my seat and NO HANDS. Luckily I did teach Rose a while back to walk and halt entirely from my seat, so this was old news to her.
- Next I'd start to ask for the walk, but then push her on into a tiny trot right at the apex of the downward transition, only using my seat...again NO HANDS.
- Once she figured that out, then we were able to just ask for the half-halt within the gate, rather than asking for the walk. Once she'd half-halt, I'd ask her to supple and stretch through her neck more accepting a long contact (almost stretchy-trot) and ask for slightly more forward trot. Anytime she'd start to rush forward I asked for a half-halt immediately. The result was a beautiful even tempo trot that felt like heaven!
- Finally we implemented this a few times at the canter until she got it, and then we ended on a good note when she gave a beautiful half-halt in the canter.
Happy trails and swooshing tails!