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.
Ever since I gave Moiya a trace clip at the beginning of the month, she’s been hot. She’s been raring to go, spooky and generally over-enthusiastic about everything other than standing in the middle of the arena and napping. Flying lead changes are actually flying… with feet off the ground and she’s exploding off the ground over crossrails. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really glad that Moiya is feeling so good, but I could do with just a few less theatrics. So we’ve been working on relaxing on the flat and over ground poles, but things just weren’t really translating to our fence work.
Until the best friend ever finally stepped in.
Nichole has ridden Moiya extensively, and as we were hacking earlier this week, she finally said to me “Tracy, halt that horse.” So I did, but of course I did it softly because 1) Moiya doesn’t have great brakes and 2) she one mare I definitely don’t want to start a fight with. But I got: “No, really. Halt her. Shoulders behind your hips, and make her stop.” So I did, and the effect was immediate. Moiya slammed on the brakes, but then walked away quietly and picked up a nice, soft canter. I simply had no idea I could insist on a halt that strongly and not make Moiya mad. But now that I know that, it’s worked like a charm. I haven’t had to be quite as strong with my halts since then, but Moiya believes me now. She knows she has to listen, and remembers the rules.
So in our lesson last night, I was pleased to be able to jump a 2′ course and be able to work on me a little bit. A few times Moiya got excited, but we simply halted, and then trotted the next jump. And she quickly remembered who was in charge, and how to do her job properly. So I’m learning how strong I need to be sometimes, to get the response I want. Add that to the (very long ist) of skills Moiya has already taught me!