How to Execute the Half Halt!

Ok, so I have done so much research on the half halt, and every article says that it’s the most helpful and most underused move in riding. I wonder why it’s so underused? Most  articles will say it’s because people don’t really know how to half halt. I have spent years of my life sort of dabbling in half halt research, and I wanted to create something in All American Pony that basically summarizes what all the websites I’ve checked out say. These are in order of google hits, not in order of who I think is right.

#1 – summary – basically, follow your horse with your seat. When you are ready to half halt, all you do is squeeze your abs and make it so your spine is saying – I’m not with you. Apparently, when you squeeze your abs and still the spine, your arms also will give a subtle cue, naturally.

So I tried it. I closed my fist around my finger, and I squeezed my abs as hard as I could. I felt a VERY very subtle change in the way my fist felt, but you definitely can’t see it. Your arm does not go back at all and your fist doesn’t visibly tighten. It’s a tiny muscular contraction inside your fingers that is super super subtle. You only do this for a moment. This is only supposed to last for one stride, so whether or not it worked, you release the pressure immediately. If it didn’t work, do it a little more obviously the next time. Lastly, you should have light contact with your leg to say ok continue!, afterwards.

link –

Let’s look at another website!

#2 Erin King from California made a 2 minute video about this that is featured on

“It’s a little bit of ho and go used together”

Sit deep, strong core, tighten back muscle ask with a little outside rein – “flex” with your outside wrist – follow through with your leg!! <– my biggest challenge, I’m always like SLOW DOWN, woman! But actually, putting on leg seems to be the key to having them give their energy and attention to you so you can use it.

What’s it supposed to feel like?

  • Horse’s back comes up to meet you

What’s it not supposed to feel like?

  • Horse resisting you and hollowing through the back

Link –

# 3 Ok let’s check out another!!! This is one point of view from the dressage world on I am not exactly a dressage rider, and this isn’t quite as applicable to me, but my method is to digest 1,000 different points of view until the concept clicks.

Here’s the breakdown:

driving the horse  – should happen on both the front and back end of the half halt – using your seat to follow and drive.

Then sit deep and tall, don’t drive with your seat anymore,  and “turn your wrists in” to go on a bit more contact

Then right back to driving with your seat! – this is the part where the horse carries on with better balance.

They also have a little section where they talk about when the half halt doesn’t work. Because I have more of a greenie, I focused on these two issues:

  • Sometimes a horse might be too green, they explain, and might not be ready to shift their weight back like that.
  • Also a horse may be focused on something else and kind of geared up. It’s better to send them forward, they say, and let the horse settle down on his own. Once he’s relaxed and focused again, it’s ok to half halt.

The link!

#4 says it’s “a momentary closure of the seat, legs, and hands.” They break down the half halt into what you’re trying to do. So if you are connecting the front and back end of the horse to get him “on the bit,” you…..

  • First want to send your horse forward. Unlike the dressage article I read, they just focus on using your leg (as opposed to your very deep seat), in order to keep things simple.
  • Then you are going to use the outside rein. “Close your outside hand . . . in a fist to capture, contain, and recycle the energy back to the hind legs.” ***
  • You don’t want to actually turn your horse to the outside, so next you will — and here is where I see something really different than other articles  — give three “squeezes”on the inside rein so that the horse remains straight.
  • This whole thing should take three seconds
  • Afterwards, go back to what you were doing before, release the contact back to the usual level and use light contact with your legs

I think this is a great explanation of what your hand does in a half halt and why – something I found to be pretty confusing in my research. I found this here. And I also must credit the fabulous Jane Savoie. This is her work. 


So I hope that helped anyone wondering what the half halt is! For any How I Met Your Mother fans – it’s like when Barney says Legen-waitforit-Dary! The -waitforit- is the half halt. I think the half halt can be used for many things. It’s the same idea, but it all depends on context and what gait you’re in. A half halt in two point, might be a subtle check and release of the reins. A half halt in a sitting trot could be asking for a clean transition to a walk. You and your pony can use it for a transition, to rebalance, rock your pony’s weight back, to refocus attention, or any other number of things. This is all info I’ve learned through research, and, if you would like to add to this collection of info, or if you would like to correct anything, please comment! Input is welcome!!!


The Half Halt, as explained by Barney Stinson. Robbed from


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