As with half pass, travers develops the strength and flexibility of the hind leg as the leg steps under the body mass and carries the weight across. Travers is essentially a half pass ridden down the long side of the school, the main difference being the entry to the movement. In this exercise, the quarters are brought to the inside with the shoulders remaining on the original line of travel. The horse is now bent in the direction of travel with the outside hind leg crossing the inside hind leg.
If the horse has been taught a correct shoulder-in this movement is easy to perform. Start with a good circle at the beginning of the long side, ride the corner very correctly with the horse well balanced and round the inside leg. Maintaining an inside flexion, have a moment of straightness as you come out of the corner and then, lightly ask your horse to bring the quarters to the inside with delicate touches from the outside leg behind the girth. Stay balanced and move in the direction of travel. It may help to drop your inside knee down a little so you stay with the movement and don’t tip to the outside.
When the horse is confident with travers on the long side, bring him on to a large 20m circle in travers. This further engages the hind quarters and is a developmental exercise for pirouettes. Travers on smaller circles can only be performed in walk and canter due to the mechanics of the paces.
Diane Followell Classical Dressage Trainer
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