Thursday, January 27, 2011

Half-halt: a lesson in review


Well... when I mentioned earlier that our half-halt needed work, I might have under-estimated HOW much work! It's practically non-existent *dies*

I guess it doesn't help either that I only get to ride here and there thanks to my work and school schedule. Getting to ride on consecutive days? Forgettaboutit!

Sooo... my lovely OTTB who has had a few days of rest and is feeling very good because his foot isn't hurting him, combine that with the lovely warmer weather and a light breeze, you've got one VERY wound up horse! The thing with Pie, he gets quick, quick quick quick. And that's when he gets tight/tense and goes into a headset, and braces his back and looses all contact on the reins with you, either that or just runs against him. When he braces his entire body against me like this and gets quick, I literally have no control over his rhythm and tempo. Ugh.

A few things I did yesterday that helped:

  • When changing direction ride a down transition, from trot-walk or walk-halt, but only for a moment, change direction/bend and then gently ask for him to resume the previous gait, focusing on a slow and steady to rhythm, also focusing on making sure he doesn't fall against the new inside leg
  • Our western jog trot, I know this is like anti-anything dressage, but this has worked incredibly well in the past, it forces him to slooooooowww doowwwn and focus on a slow n steady pace, keeping the rhythm the same, and it also helps me because I can focus on using only my legs/seat to control the pace, and keep his back up with my legs to keep the engagement. When I feel he's in a steady pace, I ask for the impulsion again and move into a working trot.
  • Lateral work. This is was my big error yesterday, I didn't do aaaany lateral work until the end of the ride, and of course wasn't until then that he finally started to give me contact in the reins, instead of a head-set. So he really needs that lateral work, be it leg-yield, shoulder-in, travers, whatever, he needs it to really get that lower back swinging needed to get that contact.
  • Incredibly, when I SIT UP he suddenly becomes very responsive to my half-halt, practically sitting on his butt. It's like the difference between a Mack truck and a Ferarri... I just have the most horrible habit of slouching in my upper back and shoulders, when I put my shoulders back, *gasp* wonder of wonders, the half-halt works *face palm*
The long and short of it? I really need to ride him almost everyday, he's soooo much better the next day. Unfortunately today I'm going to busy with school and work all day. Hopefully I can squeak in a ride tomorrow.


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