Travers 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.
The horse’s outsidelegs pass and cross in front of the inside legs, to give two or three lines of footprints – you should be aiming for an angle of about 30 degrees to the line of your track.
Aids for travers
How to start
Warm up witha few transitions and plenty of circles. Then, if your horse is going well, ask for some leg yield before progressing to shoulder-in in walk and trot to encourage greater collection.
Go back to walk and ride a few shoulder-ins down the long side, starting and finishing each long side with a 10m circle. Then, at the beginning of your next long side, set up the bend as you ride around the short end, as if you were going to ride another 10m circle. As you come out of the corner, once your horse’s nose is level with the track, apply the aids to ask the hindquarters to step in on an inner track. It may help to carry your schooling stick in the outside hand.
You should aim to maintain the energy level without losing rhythm or balance, sofrequent half-halts will be required to check your horse and maintain a good outline. This is quite a strenuous movement so go for quality rather than quantity. If your horse shows you a few good strides, ride away and reward him.
How to finish
If the movement has not quite gone to plan, then circle away to re-establish the bend and angle.
If your horse has done the movement well and has shown some quality steps, straighten him by moving the quarters back in line with the shoulders. This reinforces the idea of moving that part of the body first in one direction and then returning it.
One school of thought advocates finishing travers by bringing the shoulders off the track and re-aligning them with the quarters.
However you choose to finish the movement, make sure your objective is clear, and ride forwards positively.
This exercise can be ridden in walk, trot or canter, but take care with the canter as some horses use swinging their quarters in as an evasion.
What can go wrong?
Rider’s position faults
Try to establish why it went wrong and address any problems before asking again.