Horsey Therapist

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More thoughts on half halt

First, I love having special blogs to read that trigger me to think. Soon, I'll love that I'm outdoors practicing these things some more!

Meanwhile, Half Halt Friend wrote:

"Half halting or full halting with the hand alone puts the horse on the forehand."

And I commented in response:

It depends on how the horse is educated to respond to the hand. Of course we never ride with just our hands. WEIRD mental pictures of disembodied hands riding horses! Ok, sidetracked... but oh how I wish I had the artistic skills to create an fitting image to post with this today!

Anyway, when the reins come to mean "get ready" and "get ready" requires being balanced and ready to go in any direction at any speed, then indeed using the hands can remind the horse to carry himself in 'collection' or 'self carriage' whatever you want to call it. And won't necessarily dump the horse onto the front end. Which as I understand it is the purpose of a half halt -- to balance -- to remind the horse that an effort toward self carriage is wanted now.

And when a horse does not do it (not ready, physically or mentally, distracted or unable), then we go to full halt seeking that balance, or even to backing up aka rein back, not releasing the ASK in the reins until the horse offers the answer we are looking for.

Harry Whitney (yes, I'm still processing my notes and my learning experiences from two weeks with him in June) talked about this when relating something he atributed to Nuno Oliveira:

When a horse pushes against the bit, what choices do you have but half halt, full halt, or rein back?

The idea being, don't leave a horse pushing against the bit. It doesn't feel good, physically or mentally to be that way. Harry is a big proponent of 'getting the change now', of not letting a horse spend more time than necessary in a state of worry or confusion. So, if I ask, I must follow through until I feel an attentive, effortful response.

Now I've gone and looked up some quotes from Nuno Oliveira, after messing about till I found the correct spelling of his name -- it is not spelled "Oliviero" nor "Oliviera" although you will find some web references under those spellings.

Nuno Oliveira, from

"One must not begin riding by learning the rein aids, but by learning how to feel." (tr: Thomas Ritter)

"Every rein aid must be preceded by an action of the torso. Otherwise you only address the horse's head." (tr: Thomas Ritter)

"The hands have to be like concrete when the horse resists and like butter when he yields. " (tr: Thomas Ritter)


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