Sunday, February 6, 2011

Boot Camp Day 32

Due to missed rides secondary to extreme winter weather, Delphi has been invited to stay at Belle Terre an extra couple weeks- yay for Delphi, boo for bad weather!

Our most recent lesson was under less than perfect conditions: Delphi had not worked in several days, the weather had been cold and downright nasty, Delphi was slow to warm up with a clamped tail and tight, cold muscles.

So- the half halts, particularly in canter, weren't coming through nicely, or at all. Rather than circle in the hopes that Delphi would relax (circling really only dropped her further to her forehand or at best just allowed her to continue plowing through my aids), Lurena taught me the best way to re-establish the half halt. In canter when the horse runs or otherwise ignores the half halt, it's not because she doesn't know what you're asking or that you've given an incorrect half halt: it's just that situations aren't always lovely 75 degree sunny days on ideal footing with wonderful horse/rider attitudes.

Half halt once- firmly but "nicely;" if the half halt doesn't come through: halt, rein back as many steps as it takes for Delphi to be submissive, then immediately canter off. Again test the half halt; if no: halt, rein back and repeat this testing cycle as many times as it takes for the half halts to come through correctly.

In addition to re-establishing the half halt, this exercise also adds crispness and obedience to the equation. It also builds in a level of safety since it's pretty difficult to bolt or spook if you're halting and reining back every few strides. This was an excellent reminder of how to ride in tense or otherwise less-than-superb situations.