Officially the sliding stop is defined as “The act of slowing a horse from a lope to the stop position by bringing the hind legs underneath in a locked position allowing the horse to slide on his hind feet. The horse should enter the stop position by bending his back and bringing the hind legs under his body whilst maintaining forward motion, ground contact and cadence with his front legs. Throughout the stop the horse should continue in a straight line while maintaining contact with the hind feet”.
A good stop is simply when a horse is straight, free in the front and round in the back.
The surface of the arena is important for stopping correctly, and horses (such as Footwork above) are fitted with special sliding plates that are straighter at the heel than a normal horse shoe and allow the horse to slide more easily. Bell boots and skid boots are also important to protect the fetlocks from the friction of the sand and to avoid the hind feet catching the front during the stop.
For the tendons, the front legs are bandaged or supported with boots.
Visitors to Castellare di Tonda watching Franco train his horses from the stands, are sometimes shocked when he turns towards them and gallops directly at the wall when training his horses to stop. This technique is called ‘fencing’ and is a technique used to keep horses straight and to prevent the need for riders to pull them about. Horses are asked to run to a wall and then asked to stop. Obviously the idea is never to run the horse into the wall, or scare them – but instead work on a straight and controlled stop.
The perfect stop is like any precise school movement. Harmonious and easily performed. From the lope the rider sits, says whoa, slacks the reins and simply lets him slide….
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