Lessons: Half Halts and Playing Hookey

What are my goals for the summer? Well, the plan is to prepare for the Intermediare 1 and to go down the centerline in that test at a local schooling show. To that end Belinda has been working on improving the gaits. The gaits. Not the tricks. If I can improve the gaits the tricks will follow. So this week’s lessons were going around the outside of the arena, 20 meter circles, and the occasional change of rein across the diagonal in trot and canter. Frame had to be uphill, hind end working and me being quicker than quick.

Wednesday Belinda set off for the CDI in Ottawa. (And…..STOP PRESS…..  Just heard this afternoon that Belinda won the Grand Prix with a 73.78. A new Canadian record!)

So on Wednesday I rode on my own in the indoor arena. This arena has a wonderful set of mirrors so I can see if I am accomplishing what I think I am. And was !?  Sometimes, but other times I would look as we went down the long side and although the frame was ok there was not enough hind end engagement. So that meant another time around the arena. Give, half halt, give! Give, half halt, give!  And the half halt needed more lower leg. Ride the heel to the hand.

Thursday….. I went for a hack.  Oakcrest Farm has acreage with forest trails and the property is adjacent to the York Regional Forest which has more forest trails.  It was a beautiful sunny day and what could be better than a hack. I set off with a friend from the barn and her mare Mira who is an excellent trail leader. Biasini was happy to follow.

But…is this playing hookey? Was I just skyving off from the work I should have been doing?  Should I have been back in the arena working? 


Here is what can be accomplished on a hack.

1.       A complete change mentally for both horse and rider.

2.       Walking down a hill engages the muscles needed for collection.


3.       Walking up a hill engages the muscles needed for impulsion.


4.       Walking over tree roots and fallen branches requires the horse to know where he’s putting his feet.

5.       Biasini likes hacking and lowers his head and walks along like a Western trail horse. He’s relaxed.

6.       There are different sights, and sounds: birds, squirrels, sometimes people walking with dogs, or people on bicycles or people on horses.

7.       It is just such a well-deserved holiday from repetitive work for horse and rider!


When I was considering trying Biasini before I bought him one of my first questions was: “Is he good to hack out?”  If the answer had been “no” I probably would not have tried him. Let’s face it, when my competition days are over Biasini and I will still be out hacking on the trails.

One Comment Add yours

  1. davidreid brown says:

    Great Article keep them coming .



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