RIDING HALF-PASS - Advice,tips and pitfalls


You have successfully mastered riding Shoulder-In and Travers (Click to read more), so get ready for the Grand Finale, Half-Pass! (Travers on a diagonal line).

The British Dressage Definition of Half-Pass

Aims of half-pass in trot: To show a fluent collected trot movement on a diagonal line with a greater degree of bend than in shoulder-in. Fore and hind legs cross, balance and cadence are maintained.

Aims of half-pass in canter: To both demonstrate and develop the collection and suppleness of the canter by moving fluently forwards and sideways without any loss of rhythm, balance or softness and submission to the bend.

All lateral work should improve your horse's way of going. Half-Pass can be ridden in walk, trot or canter.
In competition it is ridden in collected trot or collected canter.

The aids to riding half-pass right

Half halt then ride out of the second corner (short side of the school), positioning your horse's shoulders onto the diagonal line.
Look in the direction you are travelling.
Push your right hip forward.
Your right leg needs to be forward at the girth giving your horse something to bend around and also to maintain impulsion as required.
Right hand asks for a slight right flexion (be careful not to pull back)!
Left leg goes behind the girth to ask your horse to step sideways.        
Caution! Make sure you do not draw your outside leg back too early, causing your horse to bring his quarters across in front of the forehand.
Left rein controls the bend, pace and balance of your horse.

Tip: to help keep control of the shoulders take both hands across to the right in the direction of travel.
Tip: to prevent the quarters leading, ride a couple of steps Shoulder-In (Click to read more), before starting half-pass.

 It is crucial there is no loss of rhythm, tempo or impulsion throughout the movement.
 The degree of bend will depend upon the amount of collection, suppleness and co-ordination of your horse.
 The forehand must remain, at all times, slightly in front of the quarters.

 Half Pass_COPY_3

Where to ride half-pass in the school

Half-Pass can be ridden:
Diagonally across the school

Half Pass_1
  From the centre line back to the track
  From the track to the centre line

A Counter Change of Hand‚ is when you ride half-pass from the centre line to the track and back to the centre line (or visa versa).

To ride a zig-zag half pass you ride a series of half-pass left to right up the centre line.

Tip: Keep aiming your horse's chest at the marker you are riding to. Alternatively you can mark the diagonal line with shavings or something similar for the forehand to follow.

How your horse moves  

Your horse should be moving forwards and sideways, bent around your right leg (right half-pass); with his outside legs crossing in front of his inside legs which should
step more forwards than across. The forehand remaining in front of the quarters.


If your young or inexperienced horse loses the bend after several strides, ride a small circle, or a few steps of shoulder-in then ask for the half-pass again.
If your horse drops behind the leg, loses rhythm or becomes tense, ride forwards out of the movement and start again.
Be patient and always remember to reward your hores. 


The Horse
Insufficient self carriage - your horse is not ready to start  Half-Pass
Too much or too little angle
Tilts his head
 much or too little bend
Steps too much sideways rather than forwards
Outside hind does not step far enough forwards and under
Loss of rhythm and tempo
Loss of impulsion
Riding a glorified leg yield - no bend

The Rider
Collapses hip
Forgets to lower inside knee and heel
Too much inside rein
Crosses inside hand over the wither (away from direction of travel)
Slips to the outside - places weight incorrectly and sits against the movement
Does not look in the direction they are travelling