Horsemanship How-to: Improve Your Horse’s Halts

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western horseWhether you ride competitively or stick to the
trails, it’s important to have a horse that halts promptly. A horse that
continues to pull against your hand or wiggles impatiently can cost you a
ribbon in the show ring. Furthermore, it demonstrates that you really don’t
have complete control over your horse. Here are a few suggestions to help your
horse halt properly.

  • Make sure your
    aids aren’t clashing. Though your hands and voice may be telling your horse to
    stop, your legs could still be telling him to go. Riders who are nervous or who
    have developed a faulty position in the saddle are often guilty of pulling back
    on the reins while unknowingly gripping their horse’s sides with their heels.
  • Horses that respond to the command to halt, and
    then proceed to lean against the rider’s hand and shuffle forward, are usually
    unbalanced. Their weight has fallen onto their front end, and they then use
    that to their advantage to evade the halt. If this sounds like your horse, try
    halting and then immediately backing your horse a few steps before halting
    again. Backing up redistributes your horse’s weight onto his hindquarters,
    making him less able to lean on your hands. Another option is to halt and then
    bend your horse around your leg in a circle. Vary your direction from left to
    right. Again, circling after a halt not only rebalances your horse’s weight,
    but it also makes him more supple and more likely to pay attention. He’s not
    sure what will come next after the halt.
  • Impatient horses may
    halt, but they refuse to stand still. For these horses, integrate halts into
    your flatwork and trail riding. Make them part of your routine rather than a
    rare occurrence. Begin by asking your horse to halt and then stand still for
    just two seconds. Once he’s reliable at that length of time, increase the time
    to four seconds. Figure out what works for your horse as a reward. For some
    horses, giving them a pat or scratching their neck works well. Others learn to
    stand still for a peppermint, handed down from the saddle. With consistency and
    time, your horse can learn to halt and stand quietly.

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1 COMMENT

  1. wow! this REALLY helps alot! my guy NEVVER wants to stand still ……EVER! i feel bad for constantly pulling back on the reains trying to fet him to stop pulling and trying to move forward.

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