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Half Pass Question - need more reach with the right front leg

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  • Half Pass Question - need more reach with the right front leg

    I have searched the forum but not been able to uncover a thread that addresses my half pass questions. If such a thread exists please point me in the right direction.

    I have a mature horse who is beginning to work the half pass. Due to the way he is built it is much easier for him to cross his front legs correctly moving right than it is for him to the left. Can anyone suggest excercises (mounted or ground) or stretches that might help loosen his right shoulder to allow for better distance covered with each step? Or are there any special tools in your tool box that you pull out to help train the half pass?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    I would try it in walk to see where the confusion is. Its usually our aids not being quick enough or clear enough and if its a coordination issues Ive heard in clinics to come back to walk. Slow it down.

    I really let the shoulders lead, like almost completely forward/diaganol to start teaching it but maybe that is a very ammy thing to do lol.
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


    • Original Poster

      Hi NOMIOMI1, your suggestion was my very first reaction to the problem!

      I have been working on this at the walk and with wise eyes on the ground. I can feel (and see in the shadows when I ride--no mirrors handy) that it is difficult for his RF to reach across his body. I have a series of chiropractor suggested stretches that we work on regularly but I wonder if others have experienced this problem and what suggestions they might have.


      • #4
        My first reaction to that is either what you said OR he is not bent around the left leg enough?

        We are talking about HP to the left correct? Right coming accross?

        Think about if the horse is going left if they drop the shoulder they cannot cross and if they are too up and not supple they will also have trouble. This is fresh in my mind as we started teeny tiny baby ones in walk and some "idea" in trot the other day and so it helped me break it down by feel to notice my left to right is not as good if the horse is not properly bent.

        The test I used was LY to SI. Keeping those front shoulders swinging/back none of that little choppy step that is over tempo.

        Now THAT was hard ( I mean keeping same tempo and swing) and showed me why maybe the horse outside leg was not free to cross the way it should.
        ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


        • #5
          I'm not sure which direction we're talking, but the first thing that comes to mind is the horse is leaning on the inside front leg. To remedy this, you need to ride with more inside leg, maintaining the bend and asking the horse to stay upright through the shoulders.

          I'd work on stairs at the walk until you get it ... alternate between half pass and shoulder-in for a few steps each. It will make you remember to use your inside leg.


          • #6
            If the horse is leaning on a front leg, resisting bend or just not going forward, he is perhaps not straight. More time needs to be spent doing correct lateral work. If not the rider needs to ride him more strongly on the "bad" side.
            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


            • #7
              I agree that most likely he's not straight enough in the first place.

              Often a horse doesn't seem to have enough correct bend through its body so a rider tries to use the outside leg to push the haunches over- and makes it to the horse is weighting the front legs incorrectly, still not bending properly, and can't cross over. Using the inside leg for the bend instead will help get a correct bend. Not that I still make this mistake. Over and over.... To help improve my riding I do 4 strides of half pass, 4 strides of leg yield the other direction, 4 strides of half pass, 4...

              Another possible issue is lack of straightness in all work - one hind may be stronger than the other, or horse may be weighting one shoulder all the time. A half pass really tests your straightness!
              If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


              • #8
                Originally posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
                I really let the shoulders lead, like almost completely forward/diaganol to start teaching it but maybe that is a very ammy thing to do lol.
                I clinic with a BNT who absolutely uses this for riders who have issues with the haunches leading. Start on a diagonal and then displace the haunches.

                OP - outside of the potential with a mature horse having some physical issues - I would also wonder if your left leg is your weaker or less effective leg, so that you are not getting your horse fully into the outside rein to maintain the bend and get quality crossover in that direction.


                • #9
                  Do you do anything differently going to the left vs. right? For a fun exercise, go to the "easy" direction and diagnose what your aids are-- and more than that, what the rest of your body does. Then, try to replicate that to the harder direction. You'll find that you're compensating somewhere to the tough direction and likely not keeping enough bend through the ribcage as you try to steepen the halfpass.

                  I also really like changing the angle and stride length within the halfpass. Really tests your control of the shoulders and haunches. For more reach, begin the halfpass and ask for some lengthened steps. You'll likely need to make the angle slightly shallower for some time until you and your horse get the hang of the exercise. Then you can ask for lengthenings or mediums within the steeper halfpasses.

                  I love the stairstep exercise mentioned above, and there are a couple variations on it that ensure your horse isn't falling over the inside shoulder. My favorite is halfpass/leg yield/halfpass where the leg yield is only a stride or two to get your horse standing up off your inside leg, and then resume the halfpass.


                  • #10
                    Try s/i on the 1/4 lines.

                    What are they like?
                    See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


                    • #11
                      Something to consider: if he's just learning (and you're just learning), I wouldn't be too concerned with the crossover. I'd be more concerned with keeping the correct bend and balance. If you feel like your horse is ready for the next step, I think that crossover can improve greatly with improved balance (half-halts from the rider to lift the shoulders and free up the shoulder range of motion - which will get better as the horse gets stronger), and forwardness in the trot (because it is two-beat with a moment of suspension and not 4 beat like the walk, I think it can be easier to for the horse to work on reach in the trot). It is harder for a horse to cross over when shuffling - forward (but NOT rushing) helps a lot. And your own balance means much. Exercises that can help include: doing a forward 15-m circle and then go into the half pass for only several steps, then straighten. WHen your horse is good with this, try the 15 m circle, several steps of half-pass, straighten, lengthen the trot for several steps. I also think exercises at the trot that loosens the shoulders will help: on centerline or the diagonal or the long side, shoulder-in to shoulder-out and back (work up to this). Also, haunches in to out, and combinations with shoulder in. Allow your horse ample time for the transitions, don't let him get stuck behind the leg, and throw in lengthenings to refresh the forward. At the minimum, the better you improve your horse's strength and balance, the easier it'll be for him to sit more in the half-pass and free the front end to cross to the best of his ability to do so. Many good suggestions here.
                      Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


                      • #12
                        Make sure the horse is doing travers on the longside really well. Then, Do travers on a circle, then go into hp from that. Make sure the horse is up/open/active, that will also help to improve the reach with the shoulders. Work on good toH, and reverse pirouettes.
                        I.D.E.A. yoda


                        • Original Poster

                          Such wonderful suggestions!

                          Thank you to everyone who has offered advice! In some ways every reply has a bit a truth...

                          he is stiff in his right side (always has been),
                          he does tend to "stand" on his RF leg,
                          he is less willing to flex to the right - lock jaw,
                          I am overthinking and when I was able to relax and think H-I on the diagonal everything became so much easier,
                          follow that with a small circle to rebalance and he stayed might lighter on his feet,
                          and I'm trying to ignore the amount of cross over and just keep a steady smooth motion.

                          Thanks again for the thoughtful replies.