MASTER TRAVERS - improve engagement, collection and free your horse's shoulders

A correctly ridden travers will, for the horse, improve engagement, collection and free the shoulders.  For the rider, it will highlight co-ordination, stiffness and crookedness, whilst teaching the rider how to feel and control the horse's hind legs.

What is travers?
TRAVERSIn short, the forehand travels along the outside track, whilst the hindquarters travel along the inside track, and is known as a lateral movement. 

Travers can be ridden in walk, trot or canter.

Travers is ridden on either three or four tracks depending upon the degree of bend and collection.

The horse is bent around the rider's inside leg; the forehand of the horse remains on the track whilst the hindquarters travel on the inside track. 

The outside legs cross in front of the inside legs having no more than a 30 degree angle. 

Travers is a gymnastic exercise with the horse remaining evenly bent from the poll, neck and over its back. 

Aids for travers

The horse must be travelling forwards with a degree of energy and collection. Ride a half halt to help re-balance and alert the horse something new is about to happen.

The rider should look along the track in the direction they are travelling; putting slightly more weight in the direction of the movement.
Coming out of the corner onto the long side, the rider's inside leg should be forward (at the girth), this supports the bend and activates the horse's inside hind leg.
The rider's outside leg is drawn back behind the girth asking the horse to move his quarters across onto the inside track. The inside rein asks for a very slight inside flexion (NOT NECK BEND). The outside rein controls the bend, supports the outside shoulder and regulates the speed and balance.

Remember if the exercise starts to deteriorate, ride out of it, set it up again and re-start the movement.

Exercises in travers:

Exercise one
Ride travers up a centreline, this will highlight any weakness; for example loss of straightness and fluency, or variation in angle.  If you are fortunate to have mirrors, use them!

Exercise two
Start travers coming out of the corner onto the long side, ride a circle at E or B then continue in travers.  Remember all exercises have a beginning, middle and end. Set it up, execute, straighten the horse and ride out of it to finish the exercise. When teaching a horse travers start by riding a few steps, straighten, then ride a few steps more.

If you have already established Shoulder In, (Click to read more), you can ride the following exercise along the long side.

Exercise three
Shoulder in , travers and back to shoulder in, riding straight to finish the exercise.

Common Faults
  • Horse's body is straight rather than evenly bent around the rider's inside leg.
  • Loss of rhythm and impulsion.
  • The rider pulling on the inside rein creating too much neck bend rather than using the outside leg to correct.
  • Inside leg too far back. Too much outside leg creating too steep an angle, greater than 30 degrees and blocking the horse.
  • Losing control of the forehand so it no longer travels along the outside track.
  • Rider looking behind at the horse's quarters.
  • Rider collapsing his/her inside hip.
  • The horse losing impulsion and rhythm. 
  • Tip: asking for less bend will improve straightness and activity.
Having mastered both travers and shoulder in you are now ready to move on to half pass Read more.