Just Stop, Horse.

Things Henry is good at: moving around. Things Henry is not good at: halting and standing still. Unless it’s summer and he’s hot, in which case standing still is an entirely swell idea.

Can be still when distracted

But, it’s not summer, and we really can’t keep doing the whole “when it suits Henry” thing. I mean, he’d like that, but it really is pretty atrocious manners and makes for some hideous halts in our dressage tests. Plus he’s about to be TEN, and I think a 10yo horse should be able to halt and stand whenever I say so. I know, very demanding.

This past summer when he spent a couple weeks at boot camp with Trainer, she worked a lot on his half halt, which of course is pretty vital to a real halt. And he didn’t really have either of those things, but she fixed that pretty quickly.

So thrilling. So fun.

But then he hurt himself and was off for a while, and then the first couple months of bringing him back under saddle were mostly just going forward and getting him loosened up again. Then I was more focused on getting ready for the show. I kinda let the whole “good-downward-transitions-and-halting/standing-when-told” thing go by the wayside. No surprise, our downward transitions and final halt at the show were gross. It kinda looked a lot like this:

Image result for superstar gif

Cue the re-tuning of the whoa button. Since the show I’ve mostly been doing dressage rides, getting that half-halt back in tune, and working on the halt itself. I want it like… at least kinda close to square. And like… immobile for at least a 5 count (gotta start somewhere). I dream of being one of those people that can halt, pause, and THEN salute. Henny is the king of halt and then do this face:

Not an official dressage move

and then his butt starts swinging around and he’s staring off into the bushes (or at the start box, at shows), because standing is just Too Much. One ride this week was just 45 minutes of walk, halt, stand. Over and over. The transitions themselves are getting a lot better, but the standing part is still iffy. He doesn’t know what to do with all that Hennyness when he can’t move his feet.

This is the most boring and annoying thing in the world to work on, but now I’m annoyed enough to be determined. At some point we’ll have great halts. Granted, it might not be until the weather gets really hot and standing still becomes Henny’s idea again.

17 thoughts on “Just Stop, Horse.

  1. i get so worked up about the halt that i’m often saluting before we’re even fully immobile lol… turns out, tho, that the halt is proving to be charlie’s favorite

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  2. It’s funny how determination crops up from being annoyed at behaviors that should probably have been addressed earlier. I am THE SAME WAY. Especially with the stand still problem. I wish I’d just address it for good, but ehhhhh other exciting things are out there!

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  3. That was 100% my horse. Great immediate “whoa” with a voice command but standing still for more than a split second was impossible. He was good at telling me when he was done too because he’d snake his head around and start nibbling at my shoes. Sigh… horses

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  4. My mare is awful at halting. If she thinks she is done, no problem! She’ll stop and then try to refuse to walk again, but if it is my idea to stop she won’t hold still. She tries backing up, moving sideways, jigging, everything under the sun to annoy me!

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  5. My 20 year old OTTB mare still can’t handle a decent halt, forget standing still lmao, unfortunately I don’t have the ability to ride my horses in the winter(no indoor, too much mud 😦 ), but I really should make it a priority come spring, having a good solid halt and staying halted until asked to move would really help my confidence with her lol

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  6. This sounds really familiar. I tend to forget that halts are an important part of dressage-ing until I am prepping for a show. Then poor Mort thinks that if I want him to halt and maintain some sort of contact it probably means I want to go dancing with him all over the centerline.

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  7. Halting…seems like it should be so easy and yet it is the very devil to execute a really good square halt. Edward Gall had stunning halts on Totilas. However Anky van Grunsven had to just abandon final halts many times.Some of the greats can get it on some horses and others on other horses cannot. Keep on trying!

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  8. Hagrid used to be terrible at halts and especially standing when I got him a year ago. The reason why I needed to fix it was because he’d walk off when I mounted, which is a no for me. The best help was I’d just stand and talk to people on the ground. If he started to dance we’d just go in circles or somebody would hold him while I chit-chatted. Now he stands like a charm.

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  9. My young gelding used to be terrible at halts because the world is so exciting & must be explored ASAP. He’s gotten much better now he’s grown up, more by accident than by design though! I think he just figured out that standing still is easier than carting me around….

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  10. Rio was never one for the halting. Which was fine when he was a jumper, but less fine when he was an equitation horse. I was certain the year I took him to medal finals the halt would be where we lost. Surprisingly, he stood like a champ for the halt in the test and we wound up second. Then he nearly died from EPM a few months later. Soooo… maybe he was just dizzy? Either way, I’ll take it. But probably don’t infect Henny with EPM just for the halt. Maybe only if you get desperate.

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  11. For some reason, standing still is one of the hardest things to get certain horses to do. Some of our sale horses don’t want to stand still when we get them. If they don’t stand still while mounting I just get on and off them about 5 times and they get so used to it they stand perfectly still after that. Then when I’m on them and they don’t want to stand I flat them first then practice standing usually facing away from the gate or away from their field/barn and only for a second before they get upset until they’re happy enough standing for longer. And we’ll trail ride and practice halting with another horse too. All of these things have helped all our horses learn how to stand for as long as we ask them. Good luck!

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