And so we come to the final part in this series, introducing the basics of in hand work.
Half steps are the beginning of the more advanced work, leading to the ultimate goal: the development of piaffe in hand.
Why do we want to teach half steps/piaffe in hand?
- Piaffe is the ultimate demand on a horse’s ability to carry weight on his hind legs (ignoring high school work such as levade, which is beyond the scope of the everyday horse and rider). It is possible to teach piaffe to any horse if you take sufficient time to build his strength and confidence.
- Half steps are the starting point, asking for short but active hindleg steps which teach your horse to
- close the hind leg forward, underneath himself
- bend the hind leg joints more actively
- lower the croup (weight carriage)
- Doing this in hand as opposed to under saddle is far easier on the horse’s joints and muscular strength, as he is carrying only his own body weight, and not that of a rider as well.
- As such, it can be used to not only strengthen him, but also to teach him what he may be doing under saddle at a later date.
- Half steps and piaffe can be done in hand with a much younger, or less strong, horse than should be attempted under saddle.