Improving your centre lines and halts

Learn what goes into making a good square halt and centre lines.

Practice, practice, practice! Improving your centre lines and halts gets you those extra marks. They are in every test and worth the same mark as your more advanced moves.

So you want to give yourself and your horse a good opportunity to master them. And this, all comes down to how you train them.

In her online masterclass program ‘Master Your Dressage Movement’, Vanessa Way runs us through how she likes to set her horses up for success. She teaches us all her tips for both the centre line and the square halt.

Improving your centre lines and halts

Why train your halts and centre lines

Learn why its important to master those halts!

In the official ESNZ New Zealand Dressage Tests 2019 we start to see halts right from training level, with two halts appearing from Preliminary level up.

Firstly, there are two centre lines and halts in most tests, so it’s important to practice these as much as you can. However, how you practice them is equally important too.

Secondly, achieving those higher marks does come down to correct training and Vanessa is fabulous and explaining the finer details.

She teaches us how she likes to train her horses for these movements and what you can do to improve your training at home.

What does do good halt look like?

I am sure you have seen many lovely balanced correct centre lines and halts from professional riders and maybe yourself too.

According the FEI Judges handbook “At halt the horse should stand attentive, engaged, motionless, straight and square, with the weight evenly distributed over all four legs. The neck should be raised with the poll as the highest point and the noseline slightly in front of the vertical. While remaining “on the bit” and maintaining a light and soft contact with the rider’s hand, the horse may chew the bit and should be ready to move at the slightest indication of the rider”

What does a good centre line look like?

Judges are looking at the quality of the trot as you enter the arena and finish your test. The quality of the trot, therefore, depends on the level of test you are riding and your horses ability.

In Official ESNZ test book 2019, Advanced medium tests, the judge directive states for movement one “Engagement, self-carriage and quality of trot; well-defined transitions; straightness and attentiveness”

Similarly the preliminary level the directive states “Regularity and quality of trot; willing calm transitions; straightness, attentiveness; immonility 3 secs.”

So the more you move up the grades the more the judges are marking on the type of trot. But above all, no matter what grade you are in, its about straightness, attentiveness and clear transitions.

Common mistakes in centre line and halt

The biggest mistakes often shown in these transitions is the horse being not straight when entering the arena. This then results in crooked halts with the hind legs either wide or swinging to one side.

Vanessa teaches us in her series ‘improving your centre lines and halts’ by getting control of the shoulders at the very start. She also shows how you can get control of each footstep to improve your square halts.

Building the square halt

In order to build a square halt it all begins with the quality of the trot. Then your preparation for that transition. Plus doing 1000’s of halt transitions as practice.

It’s not about just pulling on the reins and stopping the horse. It’s about the horse working in a balanced frame so the halt can therefore be balanced.

Once you have established your balanced turns at trot/canter you are far more likely to have a better result in your halt.

Vanessa has a unique way teaching her square halts and how she practices them every day. She shares her insights on how you can improve your practice. Therefore, giving you a better chance in the competition arena for higher marks.

Improving your centre lines and halts with Vanessa Way

In this video of Vanessa Ways series ‘Mastering Your Dressage Movements’ she runs you through with Renee how to improve your centre lines.

She breaks it all down step by step on how to ride the movement and what goes into a good square halt.

Here is a wee snippet from the video. To access her entire series click the link below to get started.

We hope you find this useful. Get access to the full video plus over 4 hours of Vanessa’s teaching with her online training program ‘Mastering Your Dressage Movements.’

Want to learn more? Check out these articles.

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