Originally Posted by Ashsunnyeventer View Post
I have never done a travers before and neith has my horse, but I'll try it and see how it goes. So for a travers- same aids but switch the legs right? The point of the renvers was that there was no contact in the inside rein, so we did renvers and made the inside rein the outside rein, so she had to have equal contact. Are there any other less difficult things I can try to get her to have equal contact? Thanks!
I found leg yield along the rail very helpful to get a horse between the aids. It's the same aids as leg yielding from quarter line to wall, except that you use the wall as a way to modulate the forward energy instead of the reins. This way you can concentrate on evenness between the reins. Ask your instructor about it.
Another exercise you could try is leg yield across the diagonal. Go toward the wall where you want to end up at. So if you're going from M X K, then you'd want to leg yield toward the right. But, the important part.. you start on the diagonal straight, do 3-4 strides of leg yield right, then forward (squeeze both legs), then 3-4 strides leg yield right, forward, etc. until you reach K. Hit the next diagonal, but this time leg yield toward the left.
I also find counter flexion to really help when my horse is uneven between the reins and tight. It forces the horse to carry more weight on the inside shoulder (especially useful if the horse is blowing out the outside shoulder). It also gives you more control of the outside body of the horse. Depending on the severity of it, I might ride a majority of the ride in counter flexion.
Varying the flexion from inside to outside while working on a circle will help a horse to release the locked poll. I might do half of a 20 meter circle in counter flexion, and the second half in true flexion, or switch flexion's every quarter of the circle (depends on where the horse is at in their training).
Normally I ask for more forward with gentle sustained (3-4 secs) squeeze of the reins, to ask the horse to straighten out and release. The second the horse tries to do as I've asked, I release the aids. Don't pull back, it's a slightly more restricting hand, but the horse has to meet the hand, not the other way around. The combination of aids asks the horse to drive more with the hind end while the rein's say "Here's the limit of how forward you can go", which causes the horse to kind of recycle the energy you created so that the horse has to lift it's back and rebalance.
Spiraling in and out on a circle will help develop the horse's balance and teach them how to stay between the aids. Start on a 20m circle, and leg yield in to a size your horse can do (if you're horse loses it's balance on a 10m circle then only go to 15m). Once you reach the smallest circle your horse can do, ask the horse to leg yield back out to the 20m diameter.
Constant changes in direction is a great way to encourage the horse to rebalance and stay between your aids. Serpentine loops (2-4) down the whole arena. Or do them between the wall and center line. It's an easy, no fight way to get the horse to stand up straight, pay attention, and stay between the aids.
I think renvers/travers is too much for a 4 year old. At least in this context. A few steps here and there at a walk, or possibly trot, are fine. Using a couple of steps here and there to build the horse up gradually is okay. But you're asking a horse that doesn't have the muscles yet to do an exercise that requires a huge amount of strength and balance. You're having issues with straightness because your horse isn't balanced well. Your horse isn't balanced because he lacks the strength to balance himself correctly. You have to have a least some consistency in balance before renvers/travers becomes a gymnastically developing tool. If you start too much too soon, you run the risk of souring the horse, causing injury, or teaching the horse how to evade using himself correctly. Again, teaching the concepts to the horse is fine, asking them to do it correctly for anymore than a few strides is not realistic at this point in your horse's training. There are other ways to accomplish your goal that are more within the limits of your horses physical development.