Halt at X… well, sort of.
Picture this: The monstrous European warmblood enters the dressage arena at A at a trot or canter. (Personally, I’m holding out for a return to a more nimble, slightly smaller horse, but… oh well.) Regardless, in our picture, horse is cool and dry, no sweat. There is no lather between the legs or where the reins slide along the neck, no foam spewing from his mouth, he has a soft eye, his ears are forward, his tail hangs softly, gently swinging with his gait rhythm. The contact on the reins is so light there’s a tail hair holding/connecting each rein to the bit.

The rider’s body, likewise, has enough firmness to maintain a good posture, but is so soft that a breath is enough to indicate to horse the halt at X without either one of them showing the signal or any pressure or resistance in the response and result. Horse stands quietly waiting for the signal to go. I said quietly! Not ready to spring forward and out of his hide before… the rider says so and has to cover tracks.

What a lovely picture. I’d like to see it so. It’s also do-able.

While it’s easy to file this in the dressage arena, everybody has X’s no matter the discipline/style or even if you don’t think you have much of a particular style.

Reiners have a couple of different X’s marking spots. All flat/halter/showmanship classes require a line up with a halt (ideally, horse stands quietly for as long as the judges take, but many don’t). In theory, hunters and jumpers have a X after their round, but if you watch them, usually, the rider hangs on the reins for a while and horse eventually slows. Competitive trail, whether in a ring or out, always have a halt of some sort. For another X, what if horse takes off with you and you’re headed for a cliff or the highway? You surely have an X somewhere… preferably before the edge and will horse stop on it? Nicely?

And what about these X’s? Horse standing quietly while being groomed or tacked up? That means not moving the feet. It does NOT mean that you have kept the head in the area because horse is cross-tied while the feet dance.

And BIG TIME… mounting! Moving (even ONE hoof) while mounting? Ahem… a no-no. That horse stands still for periods of time all day long of his own volition, yet the moment you need to mount, he suddenly has “happy feet”?

Larry Bird said, “A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.”

Mind your X’s.