Lately I’ve had a lot of solo riding time, which has been a great opportunity for me to analyze what I’m doing. I decided to zero in on my half-halt and fix the issues I have been having with it.
When I made the switch from hunter jumpers to dressage 5 years ago my trainer introduced me to a different kind of half-halt. One that not only helped with controlling my horses tempo but encouraged him lift his back and round up when used. Up until the past 2 month I honestly had no idea of how to use this aid in an engaging way. Every time I went to use it, Achates hollowed his back and became inverted, or I reverted to my old habit of using solely my hands.
For the past two weeks I have been tinkering with how to use my half-halt with out over doing it, and through the process I have managed to learn about what I can do to correct myself every time I ride. A lot of the issues I have been experiencing are due to my timing and the position of my body. And today I was finally able to find a rhythm that fit both Achates and I and managed to keep our connection steadier than normal.
His canter has also been starting to come together. I think what has been hardest for me is to keep a continuous checklist going in my head during the process. It’s really easy to fall back on bad habits, pinch my knees, collapse around my collarbone etc. but the moments that I manage to coordinate myself feel great and Achates really pulls himself together. There are a couple of things I want to tinker around with tomorrow when I ride just to see how they work and what fits the both of us the best.
I also tackled a bit of lateral work. It wasn’t particularly pretty but I think it’s more important that Achates is getting the idea. We’ve been having some problems with his response to my left leg mostly when it comes to shoulder control. I tried to counteract it by working on square turns which improved his receptiveness a bit, but not as much as I would have liked so I think we will be revisiting that concept again tomorrow.
The frustration I was feeling earlier this week has been slowing waning away and I’m finally getting back on track. The main thing I need to keep in mind is that training is a process and great horses aren’t built in a day. I’m excited to go back out tomorrow and keep working.