Purpose of this exercise: To encourage the horse to be respond willingly to rein and leg pressure at the highest level without fear.
Warm your horse up as usual, including jogging, trotting and loping. Then ask him to half-pass at a walk, jog and lope in a large circle – both directions – as in previous exercises (The Half Pass, Half Pass at a Lope). After half-passing at a lope a few times, leave your leg on (spur if necessary), maintain the half-pass position but with your body language asking him to walk. When he walks with head and haunches to inside of circle, release leg pressure and rein aids. When he has walked relaxed for a few strides, half-pass into a lope and repeat. After two or three times, change directions. Timing, consistency and “feel” is of utmost importance in teaching the horse this exercise but, once learned, he will willingly execute a half-pass to a walk because he is allowed to walk! Also, he learns to be unafraid of leg and spur pressure for the same reason – because he is allowed to walk and relax!
Where can it go wrong?
- The horse will not maintain a half-pass position to a walk. Either the horse has not learned the half-pass well enough (does not give to rein and leg) or the rider is not able to “time” his aids well enough. Practice the half-pass more at a walk until the maneuver is more refines.
- The horse loses forward motion. Without at least enough forward motion to walk, the maneuver fails. The rider may have braced up (as for a walk or stop). If the horse is in a half-pass position but has stopped, encourage him to walk (with half-pass aids still in place) by bumping him with the inside leg. That is, if you are half-passing to a walk in a left circle with your right leg on him and your left rein asking and releasing, bump with your left leg)
Note: If it seems impossible to convince my horse to half-pass to a walk from a lope, I will allow him to take his head to the outside of the circle to move his hind quarters into the circle – because it is easier for a horse to leg yield with his head away from the direction of travel and because I will at least accomplish half of the exercise this way (rather than letting him out of the exercise when he fails to perform it).