#104 Halting your horse


Note: These instructions assume you are riding a beginner-friendly horse or Western trained horse.  Some advanced dressage and racehorses will not respond as expected.

Ask your horse to halt politely at the walk

  1. Sit down in your saddle (un-clench your buttock and thigh muscles if needed)
  2. Straighten up and sit back slightly (don’t lean forward).
  3. Engage your core muscles (your stomach).
  4. Try to slow the motion of your body (so that you aren’t matching the horse’s movement).
  5. Using both reins evenly, pull back until you have light contact to the horse’s mouth then hold your hands still in the air.
  6. The horse (if well trained), should feel each of these steps and realize you are asking to halt.  If they are sensitive, they will halt from steps 1-3).

Optional Focus:  Give your horse a heads-up by giving three quick ‘half-halts” (steps 1-5) before asking for a full halt.

The horse isn’t stopping – now what?

  1. If the above (gentle suggestions) don’t work, you can do the following.
  2. Pull on both reins evenly.
  3. Make a small (as small as you can) circle and keep circling until your horse relaxes.  Use your inside leg to make the horse bend, which increases the difficulty for the horse.
  4. <Do NOT do this step if you are using a leverage bit, it will really harm your horse.  Do NOT do this if your horse has any history of rearing, they could fall on you.>  Pull back hard. (Make a point!  You aren’t a pushover).

Help! I’m getting run away with!

  1. Perform a one-rein emergency stop:  Pick a rein and pull that side all the way to your leg.
  2. Add leg or spur pressure on the same side to make your horse bend, which makes it harder to ignore the rein.
  3. If your horse is bolting, this will interfere with their movement and eventually put them into a circle.
  4. If your horse is bracing really hard and ignoring you (and still running), try switching reins.

Warning: This will spin the horse in a circle and has a small chance of making them fall down.  Don’t do this unless you need to.


Tips:  If you let your horse push through the pressure and keep moving, they will just do it more and more.  If your horse is starting to ignore your aids, make a serious point, then try it politely again.  Always try gentleness first.

Repeat:  As needed.


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