What is a Half Halt?
Updated: Dec 26, 2018
Maybe you have heard the term. Maybe you have even ridden a few. But do you really understand what it means? Does your horse?
Let's start with a definition. Sometimes frustrated students will come to me saying they have heard so many different explanations of a half halt and they can't figure out which one it right. I always start by going back to the definition. Often, what a half halt is and how a half halt is ridden gets combined, either in the teacher's explanation or in the student's mind. But these are separate and need to remain that way in order to correctly understand what you are doing. So definition: a half halt is a rebalancing and refocusing aid. This is key, because according to this definition, anything that shifts more of your horse's weight onto his hind legs and puts the horse's attention on the rider is a half halt; therefore, a half halt is not merely one particular sequence of aids. It is a category of aids, of which most teachers and riders have a favorite sequence they use and teach. But be clear on this: the exact aids you use only describes how you ride the half halt, and there are many, many options.
So now what?
Now, which sequence is best? Well, which one do you coordinate the best, which one makes your horse feel the lightest and listen the quickest? Which one does your coach or friends say actually makes your horse look like a dressage horse or endurance horse or jumper or whatever you wish? When you hear a new description, try it out. If you don't like the results, just tuck it into the bottom of your mental toolbox. You find a use for it one day. Keep expanding your category. The more you learn and the more you try, the better a rider and horseman you will be.