Aloha and the Half Halt
When it comes to riding, one of the first things that we learn is that our legs mean “go”, and pulling back on the reins means” whoa”. So what happens when we hit the gas and the brake at the same time? A half halt. Sometimes the reins are not even necessary, could the leg also mean “whoa”? I like to think of the leg aids as the Hawaiian word, Aloha.
Aloha can mean both hello and goodbye, the same can apply to your legs. We can use them to stop and to go. When using your legs to slow down, concentrate the pressure at your thighs and knees. To get the horse to move more forward, use your lower legs and heels. Keep the pressure intermittent though, the horse may stop responding to constant pressure.
Half halts can be used for several different things. Maybe we want the horse to slow down, or catch his attention for the work ahead. Or even help our horse shift his weight off the forehand to support collection. For a nervous horse, think of swaddling them with your thighs in a nice and snug receiving blanket. The reins can also be used. If you already have a nice connection with your horse, just a squeeze of your hands along with your Aloha legs creates a half halt. What does it feel like? That’s a tough one! One could liken it to a flutter, maybe a heart skipping a beat. It feels like pausing your movie for just a second, then full on resuming.
Most things are driven by the basic principles of riding, pushing here and pulling there. Horses are always escaping the pressure of your legs and hands. You already speak the language, how many dialects can you learn?