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Halt Fast and Square

Open mouthed, crooked, lugging-past-the-marker stops rear their heads (pun intended) at every show. Yet the halt remains an often ignored component of training. Equitation over fences riders hand gallop past the stopping cone. Trail competitors lope into the chute and land past the end. Sometimes I have to step out of the way in showmanship to avoid being run into! Here are three reasons to tune your horse’s brakes: 1. Safety. It’s essential in working with horses to have control over their legs. A prey animal’s first instinct is to flee before understanding. If we don’t interrupt his flight, that instant escape from the unsettling event is recorded in his mind as a viable option. Extinguish a spook, runaway canter transition or rushed jump with a calm, unemotional halt and rein back (not a hauling, learn-your-lesson back up). My riding students are familiar with my favourite phrase: Slow his legs,…

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