Travers, or quarters in, is an exercise in which the horse’s quarters are brought off the track while the shoulders remain on it.
The horse is bent uniformly from poll to tail around the inside leg, looking in the direction of travel. Compare this to:
- Shoulder-in, where the horse’s shoulder comes in off the track, the hindquarters remain square on the track, and the horse does not look in the direction of travel.
- Renvers, where the forehand is brought in from the track, the quarters remain on the track and the horse looks in the direction of travel.
In order of difficulty, the shoulder-in should be done first, then travers and finally renvers. In travers the horse’s outside legs pass and cross in front of the inside legs, to give two or three lines of footprints. It can be done along a wall or up the centre line, but you should be aiming for an angle of about 30 degrees to the line of your track.
Benefit to the rider:
- Develops co-ordination
- Teaches the rider how to control the haunches and hind legs
- Is a useful introduction to half-pass
Benefit to the horse
- Improves co-ordination, suppleness and athleticism
- Encourages engagement of the hocks, especially the inside hind leg
- Develops collection
- Learns to be more obedient to the rider’s aids
- Preparation for half-pass
Aids for travers
- Inside rein opens a little to indicate bend/ask for flexion
- Outside rein is kept close to the neck, controlling the energy, guarding against excess bend, and keeping the shoulders on the track
- Inside leg used on the girth to ask for bend and forward movement and to generate impulsion
- Outside leg used behind the girth to move the hindquarters over
- The rider should place a little more weight on the inside seat bone and keep her shoulders parallel to those of the horse, ie facing the direction of travel
- The aids for travers and renvers are the same – all that varies is the initial positioning of the horse.
What can possibly go wrong?
- Excessive head and neck bend or wrong bend altogether is usually a result of poor riding. It would be a good idea for the rider to go back to a few basics
- Not enough or too much angle. Use a mirror or a knowledgeable assistantto help you check your angle
- Sideways rather than forwards movement, possibly due to lack of impulsion. The rider needs to use both legs more strongly
- Loss of rhythm or balance because not enough half-halts used. This will lead to a loss of quality in the pace. Frequent half-halts are essential for any lateral work, but especially when collecting a horse
- Horse panics, throws his head in the air and hollows. He does not understand what you want, so you need to go back a few steps and make sure you understand and are giving the correct aids. Aim to keep your horse in a good outline throughout the exercises
- Ridden too quickly/ horse rushes. This is usually due to a combination of the two faults just described
- Not enough collection. The rider should return to shoulder-in to encourage the horse’s outline to shorten and the hindquarters to engage
With all these, straighten your horse and ride on positively. Try to establish why it went wrong and address any problems before asking again. Most problems are caused by insufficient preparation, leading to a lack of understanding or confusion on the horse’s part.