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How to Ride Trot Half Pass

April 24, 2024

Half pass is the third lateral movement after leg yield and shoulder in. In this article, we’ll go over the aids for half pass, explain how to ride it correctly and where to start if you or your horse hasn’t done it before. 

Positioning for Half Pass 

The best way to understand the shape of a half pass is to think of a banana. Your horse should look like a banana around your inside leg. You can think about a shoulder in first and then think of bringing the hind quarters across around your leg to complete the banana. 

Aids for Riding a Half Pass

If you or your horse is new to half pass, start in walk. This way you have time to establish your aids and help the horse understand them. 

When riding the half pass, start with a shoulder in shallow positioning. You need your inside leg on and a little inside flexion in the neck. Ride forward with the inside leg, then slide your outside leg back to encourage the hind quarters to bend around the body and move the horse sideways. If you’re struggling to get this positioning, pick a really long line to walk down. The steeper the angle of the line, the harder the positioning is. A long, easy angle gives you lots of time to get your aids right. A good tip is to try and stay on the line for as long as possible and ride forward while keeping the positioning. You could ride from one corner of your arena to the opposite corner on a long line. Focus on that corner as your point to aim for, keep your horse’s head, neck and shoulders on the line and then bring the hind quarters across and sideways. 

Keep your body in line with your horse’s body by keeping your shoulders in the same direction as your horse’s. 

If You Struggle with Positioning, Try This:

A good exercise is to ride down the ¾ line in walk and position your horse towards the wall. Then walk ride forward towards the wall and slide your outside leg back to bring the hindlegs across. Riding a half pass towards the wall helps your horse follow the inside leg. 

Next Step: Try the Trot Half Pass

Once you feel confident that you both understand the aids and the positioning, try it in the trot. Turn down the centre line and ride a half pass towards the wall using the same principles. If the horse finds the shape and positioning easy, make the line harder by increasing how steep it is. If your horse is struggling with the positioning, make the line more open and less steep. You can then also try the exercise above and ride the half pass towards the wall. 

Watch International Dressage Gareth Hughes walk you through the trot half pass with bonus exercises in this Ridely video.

Making Mistakes

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! This is what Rider Gareth Hughes says: “Don’t worry about getting it wrong. To get better, you have to be good at failing. To improve, you make mistakes. If you worry about making mistakes, you will never be better. What makes successful people successful is they deal with failure well. Every time you want to get better and learn something new, you get it wrong first”

Take this mentality into all of your riding and you will succeed! 

Want more Dressage Tips?

To see this all in action, along with many more dressage movements, check out Gareth Hughes’ Training Program “Master the Dressage Aids and Position” in Ridely.

Gareth Hughes’ Training Program Highlights 🎓

Learn all of this in Gareth’s comprehensive dressage training program:

  1. How to Establish a Correct Position: Learn the foundational principles of achieving the perfect riding position, the key to mastering dressage.
  2. How to Ride Basic Transitions: Discover the art of seamlessly transitioning between gaits and movements.
  3. How to Ride Leg Yield: Master the lateral movement that demonstrates your horse’s suppleness and your finesse as a rider.
  4. How to Ride and Sit to Medium Trot: Unlock the secrets of executing the medium trot, a display of control and power.
  5. How to Ride Rein Back: Perfect the rein back, an essential movement for a lot of dressage programs.
  6. How to Ride Shoulder In: Explore the intricacies of the shoulder-in, a hallmark of dressage finesse.
  7. How to Ride Trot Half Pass: Learn the art of executing a half pass at the trot, a test of your horse’s and your own lateral abilities.
  8. How to Ride Canter Half Pass: Take your skills to the next level with the canter half pass.
  9. How to Ask for Flying Changes: Finally, demystify the flying changes – a movement that leaves audiences in awe.

Many of us know what different movements should look like, but how to ride them is another story! We asked Gareth to explain the specific aids for each movement. 

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