(© Andy Marcoux 2017. Photographs Courtesy Andy Marcoux.)
A well-executed halt must start with the ability for the horse to remain still in a given spot, for a given period of time. [In a dressage test] You will first be judged on your horse’s immobility. Only when that’s in place can we look at all of the cool other things that go into a great halt. You can add balance, engagement, and energy only after you’ve convinced the horse that remaining still in place is a priority of yours.
Recently I was reading an article here on Kip Mistral’s site written by Sherry Ackerman, PhD, titled Sacred Geometry and the Figures of the Manège, when a single sentence hit me like a nuclear dope-slap …”All movement begins with its antithesis, immobility.” The paragraph in the article referring to the halt is some of the best writing I’ve seen on the subject.
The article also got me thinking about the training that I use to teach a horse how to achieve immobility. In my article The Origin of Movement (link provided below) I describe how I use my training techniques to essentially capture the horse’s energy, rather than diffuse or dull it until the horse is so deathly bored that standing seems like the only reasonable thing to do.