Extended trot to a halt
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Thursday, December 9, 2010 09:21 AM
I saw this exercise at a clinic with Gina Smith. I came to see Sharon Merkel-Beattie's ride on her 5-year-old horse she bought last year. They made a great progress since I saw them a year ago. And Gina introduced the exercise as a simple and clear message to a horse - leg means go, hand means stop, no compromises.

The exercise must be ridden in indoor arena. Horse is asked to move off the leg into very energetic trot, the more the better. This is about responding to the leg aid with vigor and enthusiasm, no questions asked. Upon approaching the next corner horse is not allowed to turn and asked to halt facing the wall. This is not so much about halting, halt will happen on its own as long as rider is successful at keeping the horse facing the wall. Rider should ask with the seat and the hands, no active leg. This exercise is not about refinement, it is about simplicity. No matter short side or long side. Rider asks the horse for vigorous trot and halts at the next corner. This exercise can be ridden at the canter as long as rider is bold enough not to pull on the reins half way down the long side. After a few repetitions when horse starts to anticipate the halt and starts rocking on his haunches approaching the corner rider does not halt, rebalances in the corner and asks for lengthening of trot/canter on the next side.

Sharon is very skilled and very bold rider. Her horse was flying around arena in a very energetic trot. After a few halts they performed a beautiful half-halt in the corner, the gelding rebalanced himself on the haunches and pushed off into impressive beautiful forward trot along the long side. It was very exciting to see such simple message created great results in just 5 minutes and rider didn't need any complicated aids or equipment. The horse was put into circumstances that allowed him to figure things out on his own. All rider needed to do is to repeat the exercise a few times and wait for the horse to get the message. I love exercises like that! It is fun to create them and fun to watch horse's thinking process :)
Happy riding...
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