How To Tell A Horse To Stop? (Question)

To cue for a halt, close your fingers and squeeze backward. The horse should stop as he feels the backward pull on the reins. As you use the rein aids, you will eventually learn to stop by using your body, seat, and legs. By stopping your body, you are cuing your horse to stop as well.

What do you say to a horse to make it stop?

It’s whoa. This interjection means “stop.” You might use it as a command to stop a galloping horse.

What do you do when a horse won’t stop?

Here are the immediate and long-term solutions for getting your horse to stop when riding:

  1. Stop your horse using the one-rein stop.
  2. Use leg pressure when you ask your horse to stop.
  3. Teach your horse that refusing to stop will result in more work for them.

What to do if a horse runs off with you?

Regaining Control

  1. Sit deep and breathe.
  2. Keep your eyes open and your brain turned on.
  3. Use one rein for control.
  4. Resist the impulse to pull back on both reins.
  5. Try to put your horse into a big circle.

Can a horse sense your fear?

Now researchers have found that horses also can smell human emotions. Dr. Antonio Lanatá and his colleagues at the University of Pisa, Italy, have found that horses can smell fear and happiness. The researchers theorized, “We know that horses perform unexpected reactions when being ridden by a nervous person.

How can you tell if your horse is happy?

13 signs your horse is happy

  1. His nostrils. Your horse’s nostrils should be relaxed, soft and round.
  2. His lip line. Your horse’s lip line should curl down slightly in a relaxed, soft manner.
  3. His lower jaw. Your horse’s lower jaw should be loose when he’s feeling happy.
  4. His tail.
  5. His ears.

Do sliding stops hurt horses?

I don’t ask my horse to stop from the lope if he doesn’t have sliding plates on, you can hurt them during the process. It takes a while for your horse to be relaxed loping up to a fence and you need to just let them roll up to it at there own pace until you feel they are confident with it.

Will a horse run until it dies?

But have you ever wondered if they could die due to running? Yes, horses can run themselves to death. While running, horses place their cardiovascular and respiratory systems under a lot of pressure, which could, in some situations, lead to a heart attack, stroke, or respiratory failure, and lead to death.

Can horses stop running without reins?

There is a way to get your horse to stop without pulling on the reins. Some horses are generous and eventually slow their feet, stop/starting until finally, all four legs come to a halt. Other horses might not be quite as forgiving and just keep going until you have to put more and more pressure on the mouth.

Whoa, Halt or Stop While Riding Horseback

When you first start learning to ride, there are a few fundamental abilities that you must master. These are the foundational elements of being a competent rider. When learning to ride, the very first thing you’ll want to learn is how to halt, whoa, or come to a complete stop. When your teacher wants you to bring your horse to a complete stop, he or she may use any of the terms listed above. The stroll will most likely be one of your initial steps when you learn to ride a horse. But, before you can accomplish that, you must first learn how to stop.

When the horse senses the backward tug on the reins, he should come to a complete halt.

By coming to a complete stop, you are signaling to your horse to do the same.

The cue should be turned off as soon as the horse responds and comes to a complete stop on its own.

  • It might be beneficial to take a deep breath as you approach your stop.
  • “Give and take” as the horse moves forward, squeezing back and loosening up until the horse comes to a complete stop.
  • Always keep in mind that when competing in a horse show, you will not be allowed to utilize vocal cues because you will be riding in a ring with other riders.
  • ‘Dead pull’, jerking, and jabbing on the reins are all unacceptable behaviors.
  • It is important to note that if the horse has paused correctly, he will be standing more or less square (with a leg ‘in each corner’), with his nose down and without swinging to one side.
  • It’s possible that you’re not holding the reins equally if the horse swings or twists.
  • As a result of your intense concentration, you may find yourself holding your breath.
  • Following a complete halt or stop, you may be instructed to walk on, trot, jog, or even canter or lope, depending on how advanced your training is.
  • If your ride is finished, dismount and loosen the girthorcinch, and if your ride is over, run up thestirrups to finish it off.

Learning to halt will take time, just like learning any new ability, until it becomes comfortable and natural. Eventually, it will happen on its own, and your aids will become more effective and inconspicuous as a result.

How to Halt a Horse

Article in PDF format Article in PDF format The first step in becoming a superb horseback rider is to learn how to halt the horse properly. This will aid in the development of your relationship with your horse and is a reasonably simple method to master for beginners. Halting occurs in three steps, each of which requires you to communicate with the horse using your body, riding equipment, and even verbal orders in order to be successful.

  1. Lie down and tense your abdominal muscles in order to prevent the horse from moving. This will lead you to move less smoothly with the horse, and the horse will become aware that you are resisting its movements. Maintain a firm core position throughout your body to slightly slow down the speed
  • If possible, avoid tensing your back, as this can cause aches and pains after a ride. Concentrate on contracting your stomach muscles and keeping your tailbone pushed down in order to combat the movement of the horse’s neck. To make it easier, imagine that you are sucking your stomach down towards your spine.
  • 2 Tighten your knees and thighs against the saddle just a little bit more. Increasing the tension in your upper legs will alert the horse that it is about to come to a halt and will remind it to prepare for a stop. At this stage, your lower legs should not be clutching the side of the horse
  • Instead, they should be squeezing the saddle.
  • As soon as the horse begins to sag, reposition your lower legs and release some tension until you are ready to come to a complete stop
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  • s3 Tighten your hold on the steering wheel. Tightening your hold on the reins will somewhat increase the tension on the reins and will provide as another indication to the horse that a change in speed is approaching. Hold on a little firmer this time, making sure that the pressure on both reins is evenly distributed between your two hands.
  • Maintain control of the reins and avoid pulling or tugging on them since this might terrify the horse and cause it to disregard other cues from your body. It is imperative that you calm your horse as soon as possible if it becomes frightened while you are adjusting the reins:
  • 4 Keep the reins in place to prevent the horse’s head from moving in response to the reins. Another technique to convey to the horse that a halt is approaching is to keep the movement of your hands steady. Maintain your grasp on the reins while keeping your hands in one position to oppose the horse’s movement.
  • Using this method, the horse will be able to better prepare for the next phase of the standstill without being scared or wounded
  1. Using both legs, apply pressure on the ground as you reach the halting point. Slowly begin to squeeze the horse’s sides with both of your legs when you are about 5 steps from from where you want to come to a stop. In order to transmit a clearer signal and better regulate the movement of your lower legs, you should engage your lower legs.
  • It is critical to exert consistent pressure with both of your legs in order to avoid crooked pausing. Take care not to kick or startle the horse, since this may cause it to become distracted and fail to halt.
  • 2 Pull the reins closer to your body to bring the horse to a complete halt. While holding the reins in your hands, move the reins back roughly 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) to further restrict the horse’s ability to move its head forward or backward. Maintain a low position with the reins around your waist. This will prevent the horse’s head from bobbing and will urge the horse to slow down.
  • Avoid simply using your reins to signify a halt when you are riding. You should be using your entire body to communicate to the horse that you are coming to a halt. Some experienced riders are able to bring their horses to a complete stop without ever tugging on the reins. Never pull or jerk the reins up towards your chest. This might cause discomfort in the horse’s mouth.
  • 3 Issue a verbal instruction to the horse to come to a complete halt. If your horse understands a command, such as “Whoa” or “Halt,” offer the order while tightening your legs and pulling on the reins to reinforce the instruction. Speak in a calm, clear voice that is loud enough for the horse to hear you
  • Keep verbal orders out of your horse’s mouth if you haven’t trained him yet since they might be confusing for him. Although the horse does not understand what these words signify by nature, you may learn them to react to orders over time by using positive reinforcement. Please refrain from yelling or shouting. Because the horse’s ears are so near to your head, they will be able to hear you even if you speak at a normal conversational volume.
  1. 1 After the halt has been completed, make a note of your form. Keep an eye on your position in the saddle when you come to a complete halt. In the saddle, your hips should be evenly spaced, your hands should be held at an equal distance apart, your shoulders should be square, and you should be sitting up reasonably straight in the saddle
  • If any of these factors are out of whack, make a little adjustment to your position and then check the horse’s posture to ensure that it has stopped evenly. Make a note of everything that needs to be changed for the next time.
  • 2 Use your lower legs to gently nudge the horse’s position in order to correct it. When you look at the horse, you could see that one of its legs is slightly protruding from the rest of the animal. Encourage the horse to pull the leg in and stand square by using your leg on that side to provide pressure.
  • Unless the horse is quite even, you should avoid from exerting pressure on him with your feet. When you pause, the horse may begin to fidget in anticipation of an adjustment the next time you halt.
  • 3 If the horse is crooked, you should adjust your leg pressure to the left or right. When the horse comes to a complete halt, you may observe that it is turned to one side or the other. This occurred as a result of the fact that you squeezed harder with your leg on that side of the horse during the halt
  • For example, if your horse is leaning slightly to the left, it implies that you applied more pressure with your left leg when delivering the halt signal. Similarly, if your horse is leaning slightly to the right, it means that you applied more pressure with your right leg while giving the halt signal. Try putting slightly less pressure with that leg the next time you come to a complete stop.
  • 4 Once the standstill has been reached, return to your regular sitting position If you remain in the stiff upright position for an extended period of time, the horse may become confused, so immediately return to your usual riding position with the reins released. Keeping the horse from backing up or growing irritated can avoid this.
  • To reward the horse for halting while you’re teaching it, remove the reins as soon as you can once the training session is through. Because its motions are restricted, holding it for an excessive amount of time might lead it to grow anxious.
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  • Check that you can come to a complete stop from a walk before moving on to quicker paces
  • It is good practice to come to a complete stop without reins. As you ride, have a trainer hold onto the horse with a lunge line or lead as you attempt to halt the horse with your seat


  • It is important not to tug, yank, or jerk the reins, since this may cause damage to your horse’s mouth. Riding a horse may be quite risky. If you are learning to ride, always wear a helmet and do not ride without competent supervision. The term “run through the bit” refers to a horse that will accelerate when the reins are pulled. This is especially true of racing (or ex-racing) horses. Beginners should avoid learning on these horses, but if you do come across this difficulty, use a loving touch to help them. Do not stand in your stirrups to tug on the reins
  • Instead, sit on the ground.


About This Article

Summary of the Article If you want to bring your horse to a complete stop, begin by slightly tensing your legs around the saddle and tightening your hold on the reins. This acts as a visual message to your horse that you are about to come to a complete halt. With both legs evenly squeeze the sides of your horse’s body when you’re approximately 5 steps from from where you wish to halt. You should draw the reins toward your body as you apply the pressure, being careful not to jerk them up towards your chest, since this might damage the horse.

At the same time as you’re doing these movements, say something like “Whoa” loudly but gently to give your horse a verbal indication to halt.

Did you find this overview to be helpful?

Did this article help you?

Let’s get started with how to halt a horse, which is something that every rider should know. Horses bear the majority of their weight on their front legs, with their rear legs and rump serving as the engine that propels them forward. Horses are extremely responsive to a movement in the rider’s weight in the saddle. If you’ve ever read about how to ride a horse, you’ll know that pushing forward in the saddle is one technique to request greater forward movement and speed from the horse. Your horse will turn if you move your weight to the left or right while you are doing so.

How to Stop A Horse – Weight, Hands and Feet

Sending signals to your horse requires you to use your entire body to communicate with him. The weight of your body will be transferred deep into the saddle and back when you urge a horse to stop. Make sure your shoulders are straight and that you have a relaxed back position. Make a mental image of your lower back getting really heavy and sinking right down into the saddle. This change in weight will be felt by your horse. Additionally, you will be utilizing your hands and feet at the same time.

  • This is similar to the way that a car driver would reach out to touch the brakes.
  • Maintain a modest profile with your hands.
  • Riding in the right hand posture to rein in the horse is demonstrated by the rider in front.
  • The middle rider’s hands are raised much over her shoulders.
  • If a rookie rider is learning how to halt a horse, he or she will frequently hold the reins in the incorrect position.
  • Using this method to stop a horse is neither practicable nor successful.
  • There should be just enough slack in the reins so that your horse may move freely, but not so much slack that you have to draw kilometers and kilometers of rein in order to bring your horse back in.

A horse’s mouth should never be pulled open or jerked.

Every horse is unique in its own way.

(See Cattle Working Horses.) The majority of horses will require a stronger signal from you than just shifting your weight.

If the horse does not respond, increase the pressure on the reins in proportion to the amount of time that has passed.

You should reach down lower on the rein and pull toward your belly button if you have too much slack in the reins.

Make sure you are not leaning forward or allowing your heels to soar up into the sky. As soon as your horse has come to a complete stop, you should relieve the strain on the rein. That is how you bring a horse to a halt.

Horse Riding Tip – Backing Up

At some time, you’ll have to get off your horse and walk. This is the proper way to go about it. You are going to instruct your horse to move rearward while it is still at a complete standstill. Take control of the situation with both hands. While maintaining control with your hands, draw back softly but firmly, sit back in the saddle, and speak out loud to your horse the words “Back, back, back.” This is a command that many horses have learnt to respond to. Never mind if your horse has never heard them before; it will not hurt anything if it comes into contact with them.

It is necessary to make minor modifications to the steering wheel from time to time.

You should instantly remove the pressure as soon as you’ve backed up far enough.

How to Stop a Horse From Increasing Speed

After you have learnt how to halt a horse, the next step is to learn how to slow them down a little. Horses are herd animals, and they like to remain in herds for the most part. In the event that you are out horseback riding with a group of pals, it is likely that not every horse in the group will walk at the same pace as the others. It is possible that someone riding a pony will have to trot regularly in order to keep up with the other horses in the herd. It is possible that the mere sight of one horse trotting would stimulate the other horses, causing them all to desire to gallop faster as well.

  1. It’s up to the horseback riders to keep everything under control if things start to get out of hand.
  2. When you ask a horse to come to a complete stop, you will use the same signs that you would use in that situation.
  3. The rear of the saddle will serve as a support for your entire body weight.
  4. Take the reins in both hands and begin to back away from the horse.
  5. If the horse begins to accelerate again, repeat the procedure.
  6. You’ll get a sense for what’s going on inside the horse’s head.
  7. You will maintain precisely the correct amount of slack in the reins so that you may make light contact with the horse’s mouth when necessary.

How To Stop A Horse That Jigs

Jiggity horses are horses that are overjoyed and refuse to move. They jiggity jog, bounce about, and don’t pay attention to where their feet are placed. It doesn’t take long until you start to feel as though you’re being slowly pounded to death by your surroundings. It’s not very comfortable, and it’s typically rather aggravating for the other riders that are riding in close proximity to you. A jiggity horse breeds another jiggity horse. Horse Riding Suggestions In your forward-shifted stirrups, place a little additional weight on the balls of your feet to make them more stable.

  1. Learn how to halt a horse that is jiggling.
  2. The horse will occasionally slow down to a walk.
  3. That’s when you start using a technique that I refer to as the “see saw” technique.
  4. Keep in mind that you may have to ‘fight’ with your horse for a short period of time until he settles down.
  5. It may feel like a ‘war of wills,’ but the effort will be well worth it in the end.
  6. Pulling the reins alternately left, right, and left with your fingers is recommended.
  7. When you draw the reins to the left and right, it is not as if you are commanding the horse to turn around.
  8. Left, right, left, right, left, right, left Releasing the pressure should be done as soon as the horse begins to move again.
  9. It’s possible that you’ll have to repeat this process several times before the horse ultimately gives up and decides to walk.
  10. It takes some time for the horse to realize that once they slow down to a walk, the pressure is relieved.
  11. Having mastered the technique of stopping a horse while walking, you will be prepared to begin studying how to halt horses traveling at a quicker rate of speed.

When you have a little practice, it will become second nature to you, and your body will perform all of the necessary movements without you having to think about it.

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Stop Right Now!

The ability to direct your horse to stop using a vocal command stems from the concept of personal safety. My horse has broken loose from his bridle in the midst of a lesson, and I can tell you that halting him with “whoa” and body stance meant a great deal at the moment. When the bit dropped straight out of my mare’s mouth, rendering a pull from my reins ineffective, I didn’t get too worked up about it. My usual response to her was to sit down and say “whoa,” and she promptly plopped her bottom in the ground right there—because that’s what she was taught to do.

  • Horses, on the other hand, are not inherently familiar with the phrase “whoa.” They must be taught that the word and related body posture do not signify anything other than halt; it is not a multiple-choice cue, as is commonly believed.
  • It implies to come to a complete halt as though you were perched precariously on the precipice of a cliff.
  • In this session, I’ll go through the anatomy of a stop, show you how to train it, and then give you some suggestions for raising the level of difficulty once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of stopping.
  • When he comes to a halt, it is also about maintaining equilibrium.
  • In this sequence of photographs, a nice stop is achieved when a horse’s hind end is below him and his front end is slightly movable, as demonstrated.
  • A horse’s conformation might sometimes make halting a bit more difficult for him.
  • But he is capable of overcoming it.

If he has a bad back in the knees, it may be difficult for him to back up as necessary by the exercise I’ll describe here at first, but you may still work with him to accomplish a decent stop and return.

Getting to a complete stop involves two parts for success: your body English (that is, how you execute the stop and alter your posture from riding forward to not riding anymore) and exclaiming “whoa” at the appropriate time.

Consider the shape of a plus sign formed by you and your horse: the horse represents the horizontal line, and you represent the vertical line.

You will experience a similar tilting back along the same angle as the horse’s rear end and forward end.

As a result, be certain that your body responds to the change in slope of your horse’s back.

And it’s not a long-winded “whoaaaa” that drags on forever.

Following the instruction of this word, you will discover that anything containing the letter “oh” will cause your horse to stop.

While stopping your horse, consider how you come to a complete stop while walking.

As an alternative, to maintain equilibrium, you can either take a single step back or one more step forward after halting.

When you come to a complete halt on your horse, you’re most likely going to transition fluidly into a few of back-up steps as well.

Additionally, the bouncing back of the vehicle creates a really pleasing appearance at the stop.

For one horse, this may imply a larger bit, which he will accept without hesitation.

According on the horse and how softly he responds to bit contact, the answer is “it varies.” Pulling the horse backwards without frightening him is what you want to be able to do.

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It is stunning since it seems undetectable while keeping accuracy, and it is simple to do.

Take a couple steps forward while maintaining contact with the bit and keeping your hands low on the saddle.



Despite the fact that this practice is highly repetitious, it will eventually get you and your horse to that intangible halt.

Make sure your hands are down on the ground; if they are up in your chest, you are pulling at an angle that is not correct.

During your training session, you should repeat this exercise several times.

At the walk, begin riding two-handedly for the first time.

It is important that your horse gives his face to enable his neck to fall down a little bit and his back to rise, with his hips beneath him.

Step two or three times in a comfortable riding stance with your heels firmly on the ground.

While doing so, accentuate your heels-down leg stance by stretching your legs and pulling your seat into the saddle, rather than pressing on the stirrups.

Keep your body in a straight stance, but with your hips tucked in behind you.

Pull on the reins smoothly while keeping your heels down until your horse not only comes to a complete halt but also backs three or four paces.

Ensure, however, that it is a strong pull and not a bumping cue on the reins, and that it is not alternated between the left and right reins.

Hold your reins firmly in place while you wait.

If it doesn’t work, ask him to take a step to the side to assist free his knees, because it’s possible that he doesn’t know how to back up very effectively.

That brings the practice to a close, but you’ll repeat it over and over again: go forward, say “whoa,” and sit deeply, back up, and stand still again.

This is something I teach at every clinic.

In an ideal situation, your horse should back away before your hand gets hold of his mouth.

Your horse will rapidly learn that if he stops and backs up in a timely manner, you will not yank on the reins, and he will be able to rest for a little period of time after that.

However, you will need to employ repetition of the same cues in the beginning, otherwise your horse will not understand what you are trying to teach him.

The Difficulty Level is Increasing After that, go for a jog while performing this drill.

Start jogging from a complete stop, take approximately four steps, and then stop and back him up.

(An added benefit of this motion is that it allows you to practice your jog departure.) Once your horse comes to a complete stop before you have to pull and you are able to begin dropping your hand, you are through with the exercise for the day.

As an alternative, keep them low with a little space between them (as seen on the right), maintaining touch that encourages your horse to yield his face.

It doesn’t matter which lead you start with; it only matters that you start.

By this point, your horse will have begun to see the light and will be anticipating your stop cues as well.

Your ultimate aim is to be able to go anywhere and do anything, and when you drop your hand, seat down, and say whoa, your horse comes to a complete halt, immediately.

Professional horsewoman Nancy Cahill has more than 47 years of expertise training junior and amateur riders in all-around competition.

In addition to winning multiple AQHA world championship titles, some of her clients have had success in competition at the state and national levels. She and her husband live in Madisonville, Texas, where they are close to their two daughters and three grandkids.

Stop with Your Seat

Julie Goodnight demonstrates how to halt your horse without using reins in three simple steps. However, while it is crucial to know how to stop your horse in an emergency, such approaches are not the most effective way to halt your horse on a regular basis. Instead, learn to stop your horse using only your voice and seat signals, rather than having to tug on the reins to do so. When you wish to slow down, use the tone of your voice and the position of your seat as stopping cues to communicate this to your horse.

  1. Stopping signs like your voice and your seat will assist your horse in understanding that you want him to slow down and take it easy.
  2. To learn how to teach the stop and visit, watch Goodnight’sHorse Mastervideo clips on how to teach the stop and visit.
  3. The pressure on his lips will be so tremendous that he will lean into and brace against it.
  4. It is at this point that you are forced to engage in a game of tug-of-war with the horse, which is virtually hard to win due to the weight disparity between yourself and him.
  5. Using your seat while pulling on the reins sends contradicting messages to him, which he will see as disrespect.
  6. Three Steps to a Complete Stop When teaching your horse a new cue, divide the cue into three components and teach them in this order.
  • Step 1: Take a deep breath and say “whoa.” Step 2: Reposition your seat and weight
  • Step 3: Take the reins, but only if absolutely required

If your horse rejects the pre-signals and requires a small amount of rein pressure as a teaching tool, draw back softly with a right-to-left motion rather than tugging on both reins simultaneously. If you perform this sequence on a regular basis, your horse will learn to come to a complete halt before you ever touch his lips. Notice: For further information, as well as a visual assistance, go to and check for Goodnight’sPrinciples of RidingDVD, “Communication and Control.” If you split down the whoa cue into discrete sections, your horse will get a pre-signal from your voice and seat before feeling pressure on his lips.) Enlist the Help of a Friend Despite the fact that this pattern appears straightforward, it is not always possible to separate your cues into three distinct components.

  1. Have a skilled riding companion keep an eye on you to ensure that you’re making the correct distinction.
  2. Even if you believe you’re following these procedures in the proper order, your friend may overhear you shouting whoa and sitting in your seat at the same moment.
  3. Your horse will thank you profusely for it!
  4. No horse on the face of the earth would welcome you pulling on his mouth.
  5. It is her goal to prepare horses and horse owners to be ready for any event, whether it is on the trail or in the performance arena.

Aside from that, she serves as a worldwide spokesman for the Certified Horsemanship Association (

Horses That Won’t Stop When Riding: What You Need to Know

There is nothing more irritating, or perhaps hazardous, than a horse that refuses to halt when it is being ridden. For example, if you have trouble stopping your horse when riding in an arena, pretend you’re out on a path with your horse suddenly bolting and taking off back to the stable. So, what do you do if your horse is reluctant to come to a complete stop when you are riding him? To quit riding your horse, here are some short- and long-term remedies that will work immediately and over time:

  • Stopping your horse with a single rein is called a one-rein stop. When you instruct your horse to stop, use leg pressure to get him to comply. Instruct your horse that refusing to quit will result in them having to do more labor. This habit should be corrected on the ground before it can be corrected in the saddle

As previously said, some of these suggestions are merely temporary remedies that you can employ if you find yourself in a scenario where your horse refuses to cooperate. It is also important to consider how you might repair the problem over the long term, which will need constant training with your horse. You don’t have to be terrified of riding your horse or taking them on a trail ride every time you go on their back. Knowing how to deal with a horse that refuses to cooperate might help you become a lot more confident rider.

How to Stop a Horse When Riding

Did you realize that horses are equipped with an emergency braking system? One-rein stops are really useful, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used one to save my life from a horse that has bolted or was having a breakdown. Even a novice equestrian rider can master the one-rein stop, which I teach to all new riders as a precaution in case they ever need to use it in an emergency. If you have a horse that is difficult to stop while riding, it is critical that you are familiar with the one-rein stop.

  1. To acquire good leverage, reach one hand down the rein and one hand up the rein.
  2. If you’re seated in the saddle, this will force the horse’s nose to lean back to your knee, causing you to lose your balance.
  3. The one-rein stop is extremely effective since it removes all of the force from your horse’s hindquarters.
  4. When your horse’s head is moved to the side and kept there during a one-rein halt, the only option for the hind-end to move is by stepping one leg in front of the other, as shown in the video.
  5. If you find yourself in a scenario where your horse is going off or flipping out, the first thing you should do is do a one-rein stop on your horse.
  6. When you do the one-rein stop and the horse disengages their hind-end, the horse must exert far more effort than if you just stopped.
  7. The one-rein halt may also be used to teach horses about applying pressure on the reins.

In the beginning, the only way I can get a horse to stop is by using a single rein stop. This teaches them that when I put pressure on the rein, it implies that they must come to a complete stop. Soon, all I’ll have to do is lift a small portion of my rein and the horse will come to a complete stop.

Use Leg Pressure When You Ask Your Horse to Stop

Do you have a horse that appears to be having difficulty coming to a complete stop? It may take them a few paces between the time you give them a cue and the time they really come to a standstill or begin to descend. It’s possible that they’re simply being obstinate, but they might also be striving to get their lives back in order so that they can make the change. If you have a horse that appears to get strung-out and flat, or if you feel as if they are dragging you down in the reins as you are attempting to halt, it is possible that the horse is just imbalanced and needs to be trimmed.

  • There are a variety of methods for assisting your horse in becoming balanced so that they can slow down or halt.
  • Unfortunately, many equestrian riders are taught that the only way to get a horse to halt is to simply pull on the reins; however, this generally results in the animal being imbalanced and inverted.
  • By doing so, you’re assisting your horse in rocking back on their hind end and pushing themselves into the transition rather of dragging themselves into the transition with their front end as they would otherwise.
  • This sounded completely insane!
  • Unfortunately, most of us have been taught incorrect information regarding leg pressure; nonetheless, this pressure can cause the horse to engage its hind-end and step under itself more, which makes movement much more difficult for the horse.

Teach Your Horse That Refusing to Stop Will Mean More Work For Them

It’s time to move on to more long-term approaches to teaching your horse to stop when you ask him or her to do so. As a workaround, you can teach your horse that it is more work for him to continue traveling than it is for him to stop when you ask him to. Horses, like most animals, prefer to do as little work as possible, making this an excellent technique for conveying your message. Let’s say you have a horse that gets strong at the canter and won’t come back down to a trot when you ask. What you can do is ask for the downward transition; if the horse ignores you and pushes past your cues, let him keep cantering.

Make sure you’re asking him to go back down to a trot rather than just letting him do it on his own so he can understand what you want.

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When they take off and get to their desired destination, make them keep going.

I used to foxhunt on a fat pony named Bella.

Bella would always want to take off back to the horses once we were done with the gate. One day, I had enough of it, so when she took off back to the horses, I just kept her galloping around them until she finally wanted to stop. After that, going to open the gate was never a problem!

Correct This Behavior on the Ground Before You Correct it in the Saddle

If you have a horse that is difficult to control when in the saddle, you may begin to fix the problem by teaching them from the ground. While standing on the ground, it’s likely that a horse may be pushy and ignore your instructions while you’re in the saddle as well as on the ground. It is my intention to outline a few groundwork activities you may undertake to assist your horse become more receptive when you urge him or her to slow down.

Training a Horse to Stop On the Ground

When dealing with a horse who has difficulties halting when requested, the round pen is the first place I prefer to start. To practice stopping the horse when I ask, I’ll lunge it around the round pen several times. Essentially, the horse will learn that it takes more effort for them to gallop past my cue than it does for them to stop the first time I ask them to. Starting with the horse, I’ll work on getting him to move around the circular pen. After that, I’ll tell them to stop, and if they don’t, I’ll tell them to keep going until they’re exhausted and want to stop, at which point I’ll tell them to stop.

Check out our article, Lunging a Horse in a Round Pen: A How-To Guide for Beginners, to understand the ins and outs of training a horse in a round pen.

Teach Your Horse Personal Space When Leading

While leading the horse, work on training your horse to respect your personal space, which is another groundwork approach you can use to teach your horse to halt when you ask him or her to. When guiding a horse on the ground, a horse who prefers to be in the saddle has a tendency to be pushy and walk into you, which is dangerous. In order for the horse to stop walking, I want to stop walking as well. The horse will understand that I don’t want them to enter my personal space since I’ll be communicating through my body language.

In the event that they are being aggressive and trying to walk past you, even if you have asked them to stop, urge them to back up or get out of your area immediately.

After a while, they’ll realize that they can’t push past you any more.

Stop Your Horse By Helping Them Become More Sensitive to Cues

One of the reasons your horse may be difficult to stop when riding is that they have gotten desensitized to cues over time. Using a single cue excessively, like as yanking on the reins, might result in this outcome. The good news is that you may assist your horse in becoming more receptive to signals by following these steps. Although I usually advocate starting on the ground, this is something that can be accomplished while riding a horse. All you’ll have to do is instruct your horse to perform something with the lightest possible touch in order to accomplish this goal.

  • Consider taking a stride towards them while simultaneously pointing at their chest.
  • If they don’t respond to that, I’ll up the ante and apply more pressure.
  • After then, I quickly relieve the pressure and give the horse a treat.
  • The more you do this, the more the horse will respond to a lighter and lighter amount of pressure as they get more familiar with what you’re asking and expecting.
  • Following on from our discussion of swift horses who don’t like to stop, it’s time to discuss the sluggish horses who don’t like to move!

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The Perfect Whoa: How to Train a Horse to Stop

In terms of horse training, nothing is more important than teaching a horse to consistently come to a complete stop on command — and yet, it is something that many horse trainers overlook completely without giving it any attention. As a result, most horses are taught to stop using body signals and rain cues, such as seating deeply in the saddle, ceasing any movement of your body and following the horse’s stride, and slightly tightening your grasp on the reins. All of these are examples of “excellent” training, but we believe that an emergency halt in response to a verbal signal should be included as part of every horse’s first training.

Your horse will be safer on the ground and in the saddle if you use a verbal stop cue, such as “whoa.” Throughout this post, we’ll go through how to teach your horse to come to a complete halt in response to a verbal command.

Training the horse to halt is rather straightforward, and is similar to training any other animal activity.

Although all horses require a hard halt, the verbal command of “whoa” can be especially beneficial for children’s horses.


All pleasure horses should be taught to come to a complete halt when they hear the word “whoa.” Using a universal verbal signal, such as “whoa,” ensures that other horse people will instantly recognize the cue if the horse is sold to new owners, is handled by someone else (such as a farrier), or is in an emergency scenario (such as a vet clinic or temporary horse show stabling). There are methods of teaching a horse to stop with your body that most horses intuitively understand, having a verbal “emergency brake” is a safety precaution that ensures that if you are unable to give that body cue or if you are in danger, you will always be able to bring your horse to a complete stop.

One exception is if you are exhibiting in a competition, you may want to consider using an alternative term.

Using the words “stop” or “halt” as your vocal cue is distinctive enough that unscrupulous competitors are unlikely to guess what you’re talking about.

To start training your horse to stop on command:

Practicing training your horse to stop by saying “whoa” at a walk while giving other indications to halt at the same time is a good idea. If your horse has trouble coming to a complete stop, start this lesson after a long ride or lunging exercise when the horse is already fatigued and will want to stop immediately.

  1. Riding ahead, exclaiming “whoa” at the same time as tightening your grasp on the reins and relaxing your body is recommended. When you come to a complete stop, bury your body deep in the saddle like a bag of potatoes. This communicates to the horse that you have come to a complete stop, and most horses will come to a complete stop. Your horse should come to a complete halt. If the horse continues to go, provide a signal with your reins: softly applying pressure to cue a halt
  2. Gently releasing pressure to cue a stop. If the horse continues forward, there are several options for emergency stops: you can pull one rein firmly around and direct the horse into a tight circle that forces them to stop
  3. You can direct the horse into a tight circle that forces them to stop
  4. Or you can direct the horse into a tight circle that forces them to stop. Following your success in teaching your horse to halt at “whoa” when walking, you can go to the trot or canter/lope.

Be consistent

The use of a “whoa” at the end of each ride can be a fantastic technique to teach a horse to come to a complete halt on command. Make sure it’s in an unexpected location—such as the middle of the arena or a reasonable walking distance from the barn—to avoid confusion. Declare “whoa” to your horse, then pat them on the back and tell them they’re a good boy or girl before dismounting and releasing their girth shortly thereafter. (If you’re riding in the pasture, you may untack and set the horse loose right there, with your tack being transported back to the stable.) This is the FASTEST way to teach a horse that halting on command results in a significant positive reward.

The process of teaching a horse to come to a complete stop on command may take some time, but it is a fundamental skill that every horse should learn.

How to Halt Without Pulling on the Reins

Photograph courtesy of J. Boesveld / Increase the speed of the trot in order to prepare for the halt! Is your horse insulted when you tug on the reins to bring him to a complete stop? Does he pin his ears back, shake his head, hollow his back, and continue on his way? Possibly, he’s attempting to communicate with you, telling you to quit pulling on the reins! There is a technique to bring your horse to a complete halt without having to yank on the reins. But first and foremost, you and your partner must be “in sync,” meaning that you should be working together rather than against each other.

  1. Equine athletes that are repeatedly pulled appear to understand that they must be under pressure in order to respond.
  2. A few horses are charitable, and they will ultimately slow their feet, stop/start, and eventually come to a complete stop on all four legs.
  3. Eventually, one of you will prevail, but it will never be pleasant!
  4. Remember that horse when you feel like your legs are the horse’s legs and your mind is so synced with the horse that it appears as if you are reading each other’s thoughts?
  5. Ride from your seat, that’s the secret.
  6. The seat is the starting point and the ending point of all horseback riding activities.
  7. First and foremost, improving the timing and coordination of assistance should be prioritized!
  8. However, in the long run, you won’t have to think about anything since the aids will all come together on their own accord.

Setup for a Correct Halt

1. Make contact with Plan to arrive at your destination several strides ahead of time. Your reins should be of a reasonable length – neither too long nor too short, but just right. In order to express extremely minute variations in pressure, there has to be a continuous contact between the bit and the mouthpiece. Begin by performing a series of half-halts. Increase the speed of the trot before beginning with the half-halts. Two legs are “up”! The half-halts begin at the seat of the chair. Resist using your lower back if the horse’s movement is out of sync with yours.

As a result, the sensations in your lower back and seat will be something like this: resist, flow, resist, flow, resist, flow, resist, flow 2 a.

Each time you enter a flowmoment, softly press your lower thighs together.


Every time you encounter a resisting situation, squeeze the reins with your hands.

The rein pressure should be applied simultaneously with the help for resisting the seat.

Maintain touch with your legs and reins, but refrain from engaging in any activity.

If the horse is actually with you, his legs will halt softly and in balance, indicating that he is in your company.

If you can increase your timing and releases, you might be astonished at how quickly the legs come to a halt.

The possibility exists that they will be yanked backward, hurled to the forehand, and brought to a complete stop.

For those who haven’t tried this before, it may take several attempts to persuade your horse that you want to try something different.

At the end of the day, though, the pull should be fully eliminated from your language (exception: in an emergency stop).

Your horse may take a few steps and then come to a complete stop.

Upon noticing that the four legs have come to a complete halt square and parallel to each other, lavish affection on him and call it a day. What are your thoughts? How do you bring your horse to a halt?

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