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  1. #1
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    Default Semi-spinoff: When do you start half steps?

    This is definitely a "I haven't been there, and am curious what those who have do" thread.

    At the USDF symposium in December Scott Hassler was saying they like to start half steps when horses are 5/6-ish because it helps build strength. At the same time, apparently they were started on Weltino's Magic just before the Pan Am games to work on improving his lengthening, so not that young.

    I've known of horses who don't really start working them until they're PSG-ish, and others who are going first level and playing with half steps in a somewhat relaxed manner.

    Do you have a set timeframe, or just let the horse tell you?
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  2. #2
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    May. 28, 2006
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    Default

    Depends on the horse, but usually 5-6 yrs old.

    Definitely would not wait until PSG. By PSG you need a lot of carrying power behind, esp. for correct tempis and half-pirouettes. Definitely, definitely you can use half-steps to work on strengthening the hind end before you start these movements.

    I'm sure Magic had done schooling half-steps much before this past summer. At a clinic with Steffen, he really emphasized the importance of using collection and extension (within the horses' ages and fitness levels) to increase the fitness and athleticism of the horse. This included collecting and lengthening in all of the gaits very often. I would assume he would use half-steps in hand as a way to add to this.



  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by MareForceOne View Post
    I'm sure Magic had done schooling half-steps much before this past summer.
    If they said so explicitly, I missed it. I did guess that, though, as I don't think he would have just been passaging as if he'd always done it if he hadn't done half steps to some extent. Obviously I wasn't there during his training to know for sure.


    How about where training-wise? For example, my horse is on his third career - started in dressage at 8. He's offered a bit under saddle just voluntarily when I'm asking him to collect/use his back end, which makes me think that's a pretty good sign I should play with them, and he's done some when my trainer has hopped on him at lessons as well. So we play but I don't take them too seriously as we're definitely early on in our training/career. I just tell him he's good when I feel him sit/engage, and he adds more in response.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  4. #4
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    Default maybe it depends on the horse

    My horse would display it naturally under saddle. So my first instructor and I would just play with it occassionally- he was probably about 7 when we 'taught' him the half steps. Because the half steps and piaffe were sort of natural to him, it is very positive for him. I will use it as a reward, after a lesson or a work session, we will do a little bit of it and it always helps him finish the work on a 'high note".
    "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
    "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
    Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!



  5. #5
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    Default

    I think training should be playful. If you think your horse might be ready try your horses reaction will let you know if it's too earlier or how much and how often you should play with this.

    As an example, when I looked back on my videos yesterday, I saw that Gesstenia started to rear in the video with Juan matute. I'd actually forgotten that she used to do this, but at one point it looked like it could become a problem. So when I started half steps with her, I had to be really careful and slow. I'd never get on and think "I'm going to work on the half steps today" but rather when I had a good school and she was relaxed I would ask, push a little, quit before she started to panic and the leave it alone.



  6. #6
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    Nov. 16, 2006
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    Default

    My guy is coming 8 this year and we started them with him last summer. He is showing second and schooling third right now.

    Just as dudleyc said with her horse, he tended to want to rear a little so we backed off and do it just as described - at the end of a good school, we will let him relax for a minute, the pick him back up, spend a few minutes on the half steps and then stop before he gets too flustered. It seems to be working well as they are starting to "click" with him.



  7. #7
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    Ideally, in hand, when the horse can wtc and is on the bit (first level). It starts with walk/halt. Progresses to a few steps, lots of rewards. And it aids in the development of better balance. By the time the horse is medium levels the rider has already been placed on the horse, and by the time the horse is pst they are taking over the starting of steps (ideally from walk) to use piaffe as an expression of forward energy rather than trying to restrain it from trot.
    I.D.E.A. yoda



  8. #8
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    I am still learning quite a bit but from what Ive seen...

    If they can stay in the bridle nicely and without getting tense when asked for a half step as well as remaining on the aids... Ive seen trainers start a horse in half steps first year of dressage (doesnt mean they were 4 though).

    Ive also seen trainers start it and end up with horses behind the bridle so its definately a handle with care and really ready the horse type thing.

    One horse Im riding will half step like its nothing and is built for piaffe so he was doing it VERY early in training. He is older though but was trained just very basic until later in life.

    Another gelding wasnt on the aids so he basically did nothing at first. So worked ON being ON and now half steps at the walk very nice... Starting once in a while at the trot but not whole lessons just in the corners here and there.

    On a tense horse it has to be tested out, snuck in almost IMO. Just here and there lots of praise and move on. That takes discipline that some people/trainers dont have and they push it. I see TONS of that with the in handers (my name for the people that outweight their training with in hand training). The connection ends up poor in the rest of their work and their back locks up because they insist on piaffe above regular working trot work.

    A horse that is going lovely in the gaits and transitions up and down staying in the bridle (with a rider aboard ) IMO can start them.

    There is no rule, and some horses offer a half step because of their build.
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dudleyc View Post
    I think training should be playful. If you think your horse might be ready try your horses reaction will let you know if it's too earlier or how much and how often you should play with this.

    As an example, when I looked back on my videos yesterday, I saw that Gesstenia started to rear in the video with Juan matute. I'd actually forgotten that she used to do this, but at one point it looked like it could become a problem. So when I started half steps with her, I had to be really careful and slow. I'd never get on and think "I'm going to work on the half steps today" but rather when I had a good school and she was relaxed I would ask, push a little, quit before she started to panic and the leave it alone.
    Yes.

    Sneak in them half steps and then say "Hey look a bird" and trot on is how it feels sometime lol
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  10. #10
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    Oh Ps about the videos posted yesterday... Her horse was trying to canter often but it was a show of forward and THAT is a good reaction to the half step aids. If the horse is stopping a lot and bracing then you know the horse is not on the aids or too tense

    Even sideways within reason is better than the ones that get 'stuck'. Move on if they get too sticky is what my trainer has me do.

    Ask me how I know
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    If they said so explicitly, I missed it. I did guess that, though, as I don't think he would have just been passaging as if he'd always done it if he hadn't done half steps to some extent. Obviously I wasn't there during his training to know for sure.


    How about where training-wise? For example, my horse is on his third career - started in dressage at 8. He's offered a bit under saddle just voluntarily when I'm asking him to collect/use his back end, which makes me think that's a pretty good sign I should play with them, and he's done some when my trainer has hopped on him at lessons as well. So we play but I don't take them too seriously as we're definitely early on in our training/career. I just tell him he's good when I feel him sit/engage, and he adds more in response.
    Netg Ive seen your pics that pony can DEFINATELY dabble in half steps and will probably surprise you with his ability to just sit and do them since from what I can tell he's had some fabulous training
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
    Netg Ive seen your pics that pony can DEFINATELY dabble in half steps and will probably surprise you with his ability to just sit and do them since from what I can tell he's had some fabulous training
    Thanks

    On a relaxed day only, but on the tense days I don't try new things like that. If he learns to like it and it helps him learn to relax that'll be a different story!

    I'm pretty sure he's been telling me he's ready to do more with them. One day I was leading him and he freaked out. Since I was holding him going anywhere wasn't an option, so he dropped his butt, and voila! piaffe for about 10 steps until he decided his life wasn't ending so he could stand still again. Nice my horse seems to always learn things for himself then teach me!
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  13. #13
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    If you ever get the chance, go see an Alfredo Hernandez clinic...he's got great technique on teaching half steps and piaffe in hand and then progressing to under saddle and passage. Horses seem to just 'get' it.... and it (halfsteps/piaffe) really is helpful for other areas of dressage.
    "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
    "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
    Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterOffRed View Post
    If you ever get the chance, go see an Alfredo Hernandez clinic...he's got great technique on teaching half steps and piaffe in hand and then progressing to under saddle and passage. Horses seem to just 'get' it.... and it (halfsteps/piaffe) really is helpful for other areas of dressage.
    I know I've seen threads about him before, and have kept his name in the back of my head in case I do get a chance!
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  15. #15
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    Oct. 27, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterOffRed View Post
    If you ever get the chance, go see an Alfredo Hernandez clinic...he's got great technique on teaching half steps and piaffe in hand and then progressing to under saddle and passage. Horses seem to just 'get' it.... and it (halfsteps/piaffe) really is helpful for other areas of dressage.
    I definitely second this! I am super lucky that he comes to a farm up here every month or two. I've ridden with him twice now and he's awesome. His timing on the ground is impeccable. The piaffe work has been REALLY beneficial for my guy and the passage is just plain fun... Although I've started to actually use the passage work as a training tool as well when I'm riding with my coach. He says if your horse has half halts they are ready for half steps/piaffe work. I've seen him work with horses from 4 years old on up. He's very, very gentle with the young ones and the oldies - just a few steps, TONS of praise, and super short lessons. Great tools to have under your belt@!



  16. #16
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    So true... The more tools the better. My latest trainer taught me about the importance of playing with different things to test you and your horse.

    She says just try things and change things, and let your seat absorb the feel of what reactions you are getting. I find that keeps frustration at bay because you are thinking and doing rather than going round and round doing the same thing getting the same results...
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  17. #17
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    OMG

    netg - I need to hear the story behind your signature......



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorCalDressage View Post
    OMG

    netg - I need to hear the story behind your signature......
    I believe the thread it was from is now locked. It was a weight thread, and had the typical extreme absurd comments from both sides, but there were still some sane folks in there trying to point out both sides were a bit off, and adding humor in where possible. Katarine's just really cracked me up, since they are all things which make some people on these forums with extreme judgmental first responses think you're automatically a terrible horseperson/rider/waste of a human being...
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



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