Perhaps more important than getting your horse to go, is getting your horse to whoa, properly, that is! Often, when we ask our horses to halt, we end up with a horse who is not standing square, meaning that their weight is not balanced between their four legs. Sometimes, their hindquarters are swung to one side, sometimes their front legs are spayed apart or uneven.
Once you've gotten your horse to halt on your signal, working on getting a square halt is wonderful practice. When you have it down, it reflects a harmony of communication with your horse. Below is an exercise that can be used to practice a square halt with a simple obstacle. You'll just need four poles!
- Set up a square on the ground using four poles.
- Develop a working trot (can also be done at a working walk) and ride in a straight line toward the box.
- Ten meters from the box, transition down to a walk (or if walking, to a slower walk).
- Enter the box.
- As soon as your horse’s front feet cross the first pole, ask for your whoa (remember, a half-halt prepares your horse for what you are about to ask so give him one of these just as he's about to step into the box).
- Once his back legs have stepped into the box, your horse should be halted.
- Stand quietly inside the box for several seconds with your horse remaining attentive (not fidgeting around).
- Once this pattern is going smoothly, shorten the distance you walk into the box until you are trotting directly into it and halting (get this down at the walk first, then proceed to the trot).
For further exercises and more detailed info, click here.