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Teaching Halt To The Horse

Jean Luc Cornille Training

Teaching Halt

"The horse’s athletic ability is the result of good genetics and training interaction.” {Eric Barrey, 2002) Training techniques enhance the horse’s talent preparing efficiently the horse’s physique for the effort. This fundamental principle is often set aside in favor of primitive approaches tricking the horse into movements.


A perfectly square halt for instance is the natural outcome of balance control, symmetry between right and left side of the back muscles, neck carriage, over all tone of the horse’s muscular system. Therefore, the sound education of square halt commences with the intelligent education of the horse’s vertebral column mechanism. By contrast, primitive equitation achieves square posture placing the legs with a whip or other system.


Whatever the performance is as simple as halt or as complex as piaff, stimulating the legs with a whip leads to pantomimes that the horse executes without adequate physical coordination. The outcome is a performance below the horse’s potential and predisposition to injuries. Primitive training technique may trick a horse with a twisted spine into a perfectly square limbs position during halt. However, the crookedness of the spine will alter the execution of the next move, whatever the move is rein-back, collected walk, or trot, or canter.               


Chazot is learning here square halt. The education is done in hand but could be done as easily riding the horse. The work is easier form the trot since the trot is a two beat gait. When the horse’s vertebral column feels properly coordinated, halt is asked in two strides. The first stride allows the horse to prepare himself refining balance and symmetry of the back muscles. The second stride allows him to square the limbs position. When the vertebral column mechanism is correctly working as it is the case for the first and last attempt, the halt is square. When the vertebral column is not perfectly coordinated, as it is the case in the other tentatives, the halt is not square.


The second halt was asked from the walk and obviously Chazot’s vertebral column was not properly coordinated. The third tentative was made from the walk again. Chazot is then shifting the weight from one foreleg to the other. This is due to insufficient balance control prior and during the execution of the halt. The fourth attempt is asked from the walk again. The halt is better but Chazot did not finish the placement of the right hind leg. Halt is more difficult to master from the walk than from the trot. The fifth tentative is therefore asked from the trot. Chazot almost succeed but the balance control was not perfect and Chazot needs to move one hind limb to secure his balance. The last tentative is good.


"No one learns to make right decisions without being free to make wrong ones.’ (Kenneth Sollitt) Therefore, a horse will not achieve productive mental processing under the constraint of submission. By contrast, the horse will gladly engage his brain into the work if the training technique is stimulating the horse’s mental processing.  


Jean Luc



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10.10.10 10:08

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