Half Halts are the Key to Everything

It was supposed to be a short ride, but I couldn’t get PJ to turn at all from the get-go.  I tried sticking my outside elbow to my side and turning my body and using my inside leg to push his inside hind, and my outside leg to hold his body.  Didn’t work.  I have to admit that I resorted to beating him because he wouldn’t move over when I put my inside calf on him.  That worked to get him to move away from my leg but not to turn.

Finally it dawned on me that turning was not a problem going up the slope in our ring, only down.  Then I thought that maybe he was falling on his forehand.  Yup.  I started doing half-halts every couple of strides, especially before the turn down the hill.  That fixed the problem.

I ended the ride in the ring as soon as I could turn again and headed out for the cross-country course.  I hadn’t meant to ride him much more but I could feel fear creeping up. I was afraid to trot and canter him down there because I didn’t know what he would do (spooking, bolting, and bucking came to mind).  However, I made a decision a couple of years ago that I would not let fear rule my life.  So now, whenever I get scared.  I take a few seconds to think it over.  Is my fear rationale?  If it is, then I don’t push myself, but if it isn’t, then I force myself to do whatever it is I’m afraid of.  For example, I’m afraid to jump PJ.  I’ve thought about jumping him to give him something else to do, but when Bridget took him over some crossrails last year he refused almost as many times as he jumped.  He hated it and he wasn’t very good at it.  In this case my fear is justified because there is a good likelihood that PJ would do something that I couldn’t handle. However, riding out on the cross-country course was not a rationale fear on a beautiful day like today, especially after working in the ring.  I started trotting in a big circle, expanded it to all the way around the bottom half of the course, and then finally cantered.  We didn’t go for very long, but it was enough to quench my fears and to show PJ what it was like to have to go in tall grass.  A win-win.

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