I’m at a point in my riding where I know a lot of the basics. For example, I know what a half halt it, how to perform a half halt and the general circumstances in which I should apply a half halt. But what I’m still learning is how HARD to apply a half halt and how often I should half halt. These are more complicated questions because the answer is fluid: it depends. It depends on the horse, it depends on the day, and (most importantly) the answer can change throughout your ride.
Lots of updates are overdue, including one on baby Moiya (that cute little bay OTTB mare). She spent the last half of the summer carting me around, helping me regain some confidence. We had lots of really great rides, but this fall her future was uncertain. But, I have a great trainer (and I can’t say that enough!) who has taken on Moiya since her owner fell ill and passed away last week. And… after much discussion with DH, we decided to half-lease her!
Ever since I can remember, my upper body position (especially over fences) has been horrible. Every coach I worked with from high school through college told me to keep my shoulders back, stop rounding my back or some variation thereof. It was really frustrating for me because I tried. I tried so hard to do this, and it usually just didn’t work. When I started riding with my current trainer, we didn’t talk about it. We talked a lot about many other things, like using my hands independently, strengthening my legs and keeping my eye up… but we didn’t really talk a lot about upper body position.
My catch ride, the littlest bay OTTB mare Moiya, continues to be my saving grace through the continuing trials with Miles. Typically I ride her 2-3 times a week, including one lesson over fences. We’ve been practicing a lot of the items on my goals list, like posting without stirrups, leg yields and a faster canter pace. She’s teaching me so much about being soft, yet firm throughout my entire body. My last lesson really showcased where we’re at together, I think.
Last summer, about 10 days before a horse show, I took a nasty fall off Miles. He slammed on the brakes right before a white coop and I went over the jump without him; neither Trainer nor I saw it coming. My hip hurt so badly I went to the ER to get it x-rayed, convinced I’d broken something. Luckily I didn’t, but it wasn’t a quick recovery for me and ever since I’ve been terrified of the coop. Of course at the horse show immediately following this incident, there was a brown coop in the ring that Miles jumped several times with no problem.