First, pick a number between twenty and fifty. It doesn’t matter which one. Cue your horse to walk and on the first stride count 'one', 'two', 'three' and continue counting until you reach your chosen number. On the final number, you’ll come to a halt. To be accurate, you’ll need to prepare for the halt before you reach your end number. And that is what makes this a bit of a challenge. Many of us let our horses roll into a halt, gradually slowing down and stopping…and them maybe taking another step, or two or more, or swinging around and maybe fidgeting.
Ideally, you should be cuing for the halt first with your seat which will become less active, with your legs firmly on your horse’s sides, then increasing the rein aids by gently squeezing back. You don’t want the walk to just peter out and once the horse is stopped it should stand balanced and quietly. It will take practice to learn how to halt your horse so that it is standing square and ready to march off at the walk again, but that is your goal.
For now continue the exercise, shortening the number of steps you’ll ask your horse to take. Can you take ten steps and have your horse come to a balanced, motionless stop? How about five steps? Be patient with your horse and with yourself. You’ll find as you increase the accuracy of your aids, it will be easier for your horse to respond.
Make a game of this with friends who are riding with you. See who can stop on their chosen number without going over. Who can take the shortest or longest number of steps and stop accurately?