January 12, 2014

Straightness in the Halt

First lesson in three weeks, first time seeing my horse in 7 days.


Of course, I was not expecting to see him here when I got to the barn to feed this morning:

Not his stall.  

"What is this...tack...I am
wearing...?  Riding?  What is
We are one horse over our limit until Tuesday, so Connor is in an area that was at one point a stall, and is now an aisleway.  Totally safe, and same floors as the stalls, just funny to see him there.  I like it!   I also like the Welsh Cob-proof gate latches they drew up: two chains and a lead rope.

After chores, I had a lesson.  She requested jump saddle, even though we spent the whole lesson doing Dressage.  We worked on getting him even in both reins with leg yield, where I needed more half-halts in the outside rein in order to ensure that he didn't get crooked, and to stop "pushing" him with the inside rein.  Next up was shoulder out and turns on the forehand, and during this she had me actually look down at my reins to see how unevenly I was using them.  Oops.

After aiming for crookedness (not really but you know what I mean) in the first half of the lesson, the second half was about straightness.  We went around on the quarter line and first did walk-halt-walk ad nauseum, with an extreme emphasis on straightness.

On the left rein, he liked to bring his shoulder right when we halt and when we walk off again, so it was my job to correct it.  When I tried to correct it using my legs, duh, his hindquarter went where I wanted his shoulder to go, because it's the reins that correct the shoulder, not the legs.

Of course, once I figured out which aids did what, I had to figure out how much aid I needed - sometimes I didn't do enough, sometimes I did too much and his shoulder went the opposite direction of where he was about to put it.  Sometimes I was too early, and most of the time my aids were too late.  Going back to the beginning of the lesson, he needed to be perfectly equal in both reins or else the halt wasn't straight.  Dressage, you are a funny and cruel mistress sometimes.

My trainer basically said that we're seeing a hole here in his very basic training, and that we need to focus on the details - practice, practice, practice until the details are perfect, because things like straightness in transitions make the hard stuff easier later.  500 times, she said.  "Homework!" she said.  This is how you get good.

And after things were going well at the walk, we did the same thing at the trot.  She tells me we'll do this at the canter too...but that's probably down the line a ways.

He wasn't sweaty, but he was completely exhausted afterward, deep down tired.  He napped in the warm sunshine in his field afterward.  Vacation is over, my pony friend!



  1. Oh, I have so been down that path … repeatedly. Just when you think you have it licked, it shows back up in a different gait or in a different movement. :0)

    1. I had a feeling you did, it seems like you and I feel things very similarly and are taking a similar path through things. Connor is a very wiggly horse to begin with, so this is a good challenge for us and something we need to tackle NOW!

  2. Riding the halt! Such a fickle transition. I am not at all going above what your trainer is telling you at all. Obviously she knows what she is doing and she is actually seeing you. I am just offering what helped Steady and I and maybe just offer another thought process to straightness in the halt. I am a glutton for over steering everything which makes everything crooked. I found through biomechanics but that if I am straight and even and balanced in my seat that my horse halts straight. We have gone from blasé halt to the kind of halt that is square 9 times out 10 and gets really high marks and nice comment from the judges. A check is to make sure your seat bones are weighted evenly every time. If they aren't fix it and it is amazing that your horse will magically start halting straight and square. Anyways just a thought that may or may not help.

    1. You are definitely on to something. I am often more on the right seat bone, and I need to think about that as I ask him to be straight too. Thanks for the tip!

  3. Replies
    1. Haha I do call him Conman! On with the nicknames! :-)

  4. He's so cute! I say this every time in pretty sure but still!

    Glad you had a good lesson and were able to get a ride in.

    1. You can say it as many times as you want. :) You need to meet him, this summer, let's make it happen!