Core muscles, meet the half-halt
May 9, 2013 6 Comments
We had another nice ride last night, and another incremental improvement. In my lesson, I worked on getting Derby’s hind legs more active and pushing, rather than pulling himself along on the forehand. To do this, Christy introduced my core to my half-halt, and pretty quickly I was able to get the feel of rebalancing the horse. It was one of those lightbulb moments in which you consciously do something, and feel the results. Cause and effect – it’s powerful stuff.
Here’s a still from last night’s ride (pink t-shirt). There’s a big difference in hind end engagement when compared to my ride the night before (blue saddle pad.)
The differences are subtle but clear visually – Derby is more up, off his forehand in the picture from last night, and he’s pushing more with his hind legs – you can see he’s stepping more forwardly with his hind legs, rather than trailing them behind (as he does when he’s on the forehand.)
The difference in feeling between the trots is more stark. The connected trot last night feels so powerful. The less-connected trot from last night just feels fast.
Christy had me work on channeling our forward energy and controlling it with my seat, core and half-halts. One thing I have to work on is using the half halt correctly – to rebalance – rather than slow down. I generally allow Derby to lose energy in the half halt. And I remember what Robert Dover said about half-halts – they’re additive, you gather and coil the energy in the half halt. Now, to put that into practice and make it a habit.
With Christy coaching me about every other step of the way, I worked on half-halting with my core and then immediately putting my leg on to say “Go!” while increasing my post to get a bigger (not faster) stride. And we were able to start to generate more of a trot – one that someday could be suspended and fancy. We have a long way to go, though, in terms of fitness and muscling of both horse and rider. Still, it will be fun to put a dressage neck on Derbs – he’s pretty burly as TBs go already and tends to carry heavy muscle. He’s a big handsome critter already but with good dressage muscling, my plain bay will be a standout!