Your horse’s power, impulsion and engagement all come from one place – his hindquarters – and dedicating time in your schooling sessions to making this key part of his body more manoeuvrable is important for several reasons. It helps build strength behind, allowing him to sit and engage, and it creates activity so he can take longer steps underneath his body, which helps to build impulsion. Finally, because most horses naturally move with their quarters slightly inward on their weaker side, practising exercises targeted at this area of his body will help resolve any crookedness.
Exercise: 10m circle into travers
Perform a balanced 10m circle to set up the correct positioning for travers (quarters-in).
Riding a 10m circle will help create the inside bend, balance and impulsion you need to ride travers, which is a movement where your horse’s shoulders stay on the track and his quarters move to the inside, while his legs work on three tracks.
How to ride it
- In working trot, ride a 10m circle at H, focusing on keeping your inside leg down and maintaining an even rhythm.
- As you reapproach H, ride a series of half-halts to rebalance your horse, add impulsion and prepare him for what’s coming next. Use your inside leg to support him and help him balanced.
- Return to the track, but maintain the same amount of bend you had around the circle – you’ll now be in travers. Keep your shoulders and hips straight so your horse’s chest and forehead face the direction he’s moving, your inside leg down and your outside leg slightly back. Your inside leg has more influence in travers than the outside one, as it maintains the bend.
- After a few strides of travers, ride straight, then repeat the exercise on the other rein.
For more simple exercises to help you influence his quarters, pick up the July issue of Horse&Rider, on sale 31 May.