Haunches In Course (Travers)
This course explains the haunches-in, also known as Travers (trah- vehr). It covers the aids for asking for this movement, and common errors made when doing a haunches-in. Learn when and where to do a haunches-in, the benefits of this exercises for both horse and rider, and a brief history of this movement.
FEI Rider, Trainer, & Instructor
Eliza Sydnor Romm is a classically trained dressage rider and instructor. Her goal is to successfully train horses and riders with an emphasis on partnership and harmony.
This exercise is most often performed in collected trot, however it can be ridden in collected walk or canter as well. The forehand remains on the track, with the head looking straight along the track. The haunches are moved to the inside, with the horse slightly bent TOWARD the direction of the movement, so that from the front or back, one sees FOUR TRACKS. The degree of bend is greater than that of shoulder-in, and a constant angle of approximately 35 degrees should be shown. The horse’s outside hind leg passes and crosses in front of the inside hind leg. The outside foreleg is placed in front of the inside foreleg. To start the travers, the haunches must leave the track or, after a corner or circle, are not brought back into the track. At the end of the travers, the haunches are brought back onto the track, as in finishing a circle.
View From Above
In a Haunches-In, the horse moves at approximately a 35 degree angle to the track along the wall of the arena.
The horse seen from above performing a haunches-in.
2. A Brief History of Haunches-In
Travers was first written about by the Duke of Newcastle (1592 – 1676). Newcastle introduced haunches-in along the wall to work the horse’s haunches. In his book, A General System Of Horsemanship, William Cavendish said, “The inside hand combined with the outside leg works the croup because the inside rein pushes the inside hind leg outwards, at the same time that the outside leg pushes the outside leg inwards. By combining these aids, the horse must bring his hind legs underneath himself.” He went on to recommend that the horse should be worked in both directions in this manner before starting haunches-in on a volte (small circle) at a walk.
Salomon de la Broue (1630-1610) and François Robichon de la Guérinière (1688-1751) both had doubts about the value of travers and recommended the use of renvers (haunches-out) instead. In fact, Guérinière stated that he thought a horse trained in haunches-in relied on the wall to prevent the outside front shoulder falling out rather than the rider’s aids. De la Broue was of the same opinion but thought that haunches-in was beneficial for horses that were heavy in the hand. These two masters had profound effect on the French School, and neither Boucher, who mentions the movement in passing, or Fillis wrote much about haunches-in.
Gustav Steinbrecht (1808 – 1885) felt that travers should be taught once shoulder-in was established. He believed that travers was extremely beneficial in developing true collection as correct travers “requires greater flexion of the forehand than the shoulder-in” and that travers was unsurpassed for improving the trot.
Alois Podhajsky (1898 – 1973) on the other hand, questioned the use of travers. He thought that travers encouraged the horses’ natural tendency towards crookedness and that any advantages obtained from the exercise were outweighed by the disadvantages. He advocated the use of renvers, as he felt this offered all the advantages of travers without the disadvantages.
Haunches-In is first introduced in competition in the US at Second Level Test 2.
Rider Aids for a Haunches-In:
1. The rider’s weight is slightly to the inside.
2. The inside leg is at the girth for impulsion and bending.
3. The outside leg is behind the girth to ask the haunches to step in.
4. The outside rein helps to keep the forehand on the track and control the bend.
5. The inside rein asks for flexion to the inside.
When to ask for a haunches-in
Why do a haunches-in?
- To teach the rider to ride the horse’s haunches and forehand on different tracks, while keeping the horse bent into the direction of travel.
- Along with shoulder in, as a preparation for more advanced movements such as half pass and pirouettes.
- To be used, along with shoulder in, as physical therapy to make the horse more and more symmetrical.
- To improve collection. The lateral movements help to place more weight on the haunches and lift the forehand of the horse.
- Haunches in especially helps to tip the horse’s pelvis more under, so that the hind legs can come farther underneath the horse.
Where to do a haunches-in
The easiest way to start is by riding a 10 m circle to establish the bend and balance. Find your aids on that circle – weight slightly to the inside, inside leg at the girth, outside leg behind the girth. Then notice the very last stride of the circle – when the horse’s front leg touches the track but the hind end has not yet touched the track. Then try to carry this shape down the long side for a few strides. When the horse loses the angle, 10m circle again, and start again.
Once this is easy, use the corner to get your bend and ride haunches in out of the corner instead of starting with a circle.
When that feels easy, you can practice haunches in on a 20 m circle. Just be mindful that the front end is trotting (or cantering) on the 20 m circle line, and not falling out.
Benefits For the Horse
Haunches in is considered a stepping stone to the more advanced half pass. It is the first time we ask the horse to move INTO the direction of the bend, so it often feels quite difficult to the horse at first. Be patient!
Benefits For the Rider
Riding the haunches-in is a useful tool for riders to learn how to isolate control of the forehand from the hind end while maintaining control of the horse’s shoulders. Having control of the horse’s shoulders when going around turns makes the horse more enjoyable to ride because it helps the horse stay balanced and more organized during turns and direction changes.
The rider must coordinate all their aids in a haunches-in – inside leg, outside leg, inside rein, outside rein and their weight staying centered and slightly INTO the bend.
In addition, the rider should ask the horse to move the haunches in as the outside hind leg is LEAVING the ground. This is the moment that the rider can direct the leg to cross. Learning this timing can be difficult at first. Have someone on the ground to help you recognize the timing and say NOW, NOW, NOW…
Some common errors in haunches-In
The horse on the left is over bent to the inside due to too much inside rein.
The horse on the right is too straight and the haunches swing out, similar to doing a leg yield along the wall.
The rider is leaning to the inside with the inside leg pulled too far back.
Course Overview This course explains the turn on the forehand, the aids for asking for this movement, and common errors made when doing a turn on the forehand. Learn when and where to do a turn on the forehand, the benefits of this exercise for both horse and rider,...
This course explains the shoulder-in, the aids for asking for this movement, and common errors made when doing a shoulder-in. Learn when and where to do a shoulder-in, the benefits of this exercises for both horse and rider, and a brief history of this movement.