I've really been working with my mare to get her to take equal contact in both reins (she likes to twist and lock her jaw). My trainer suggested renvers. After a long discussion where I FINALLY understood the difference between renvers, travers, shoulder in and shoulder out; we started asking for the renvers. Sunny can already do a decent shoulder in, if I'm constantly making sure she doesn't fall out her outside shoulder.
For the renvers going to the right, I put my right leg back and kept my left leg at the girth. I kept a left leg to right rein connection, while keeping her shoulders straight. Then I put my right leg on to move her haunches towards the wall. I used my left leg to keep her shoulders off the wall, but not moving to the right.
All of this multi-tasking means that one thing has got to be bad. Today, it was my right heel (for renvers going right). When I put my right leg back, my right heel came up, no matter how much I focused on it. My trainer put me in the right position, but I couldn't hold it. I really wanted to push my right hip forwards to push my right leg back, but that's wrong. My trainer said to feel like I'm stepping down in my heel and the feeling starts in the hip. This didn't help me. It could be that I'm riding in a jumping saddle with a knee and calf roll. I felt like the roll behind/under my thigh was not helping the situation. I tried bareback, but still couldn't get it quite right. This is the first time I've ever tried renvers, and Sunny is just 4, so it's her first time too. My trainer rides her 2 times a week, and they just work on lateral work mostly. I'd get a dressage saddle, but I'm afraid that Sunny will still grow and develop even more of a topline , and it won't fit for long. The dressage saddle I have doesn't even come close to fitting her and the saddle fitter can't do anything about it.
Do you have any tips for the renvers, or am I just over thinking it and it doesn't matter at the moment? I'll try to take a video of our lateral work tomorrow.
Renvers is just travers but with the wall by the horses hind end instead of the forehand. I would highly recommend getting a handle on the aids for these movements figured out in the travers first. The only thing that changes from trotting straight down the wall to doing a travers is that the horses haunches move in, the forehand continues to travel in a straight line, the front legs do not cross.
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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!
Please Google the difference in renvers and travers. The horse should be well schooled in shoulder in and travers before attempting renvers. This horse is 4 so its unlikely she has the balance to do renvers.
As well because the forehand does not change from a straight line, the contact will not change either. This inside rein having no contact is BS.
Riding the horse forward from leg to hand in level appropriate exercises will get her more evenly into the contact. Also get her teeth checked.
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what i do with my mare to make sure she is moving straight, is basically the same idea and renvers and travers, but what i do is walk [or trot] down the quarter line. 3 steps moving straight, 3 steps haunches left, 3 steps straight, 3 steps haunches right, 3 steps straight. you get the idea.
you want to have a feel of both reins, but say you wanted to move the haunches left [rest of the horse stays straight] you would just close your hand around the left rein and keep your left leg on at the girth. you would slide your right leg back and apply pressure.
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.
Thanks for all the ideas core! We have been doing a lot of counter bend, but I wanted to try something new, just because it's winter and it's easy to get bored :) I tried asking for a leg yield from her for the first time the other day and I was so surprised that she did it. Now- I don't know if you can actually call it a leg yield since the amount of forward movement was minimal, but she was crossing her legs over in the direction I wanted to go. I'll try along the wall to see if that helps the forward movement. Usually, Sunny takes more contact on the outside rein and my inside rein can almost have a loop in it. I'm pretty sure that the problem is coming from her haunches. If she isn't pushing off evenly, then she won't take the contact evenly right? So we've been doing lots of w/t transitions and starting to work on back up. I think we need to spend some more time on back up from the ground before we try it in the saddle though- she likes to back up in a circle- not a line. I can see that renvers and travers is too much for her now. I had no idea that it took so much coordination and balance for her (and me) to do. I guess I forget that she's only been under saddle for 2 years because she is such a quick learner! So I'm going to ask my trainer (who rides her 2X a week) to just work on getting her connected minus the lateral work. Or is shoulder- in okay?
I'd discuss it with your trainer, express your concerns, ask her what her theory is behind teaching it now. Also, go watch her train the horse a few times. If your horse is happy, and working with ease, in the shoulder-in, then I'd say it's fine. If the horse looks upset, tight/tense, and over-all just not a happy camper, then I'd ask the trainer to go back to something easier for awhile.
For the straightness- If we are on a circle, she bends to the inside so much that I almost have no contact on the inside rein. She twists her head so her nose is pointing towards the inside of the circle, while her ears are a little to the outside. On a straight line, she does the same thing, but a little more pulling. We've had her teeth checked and she was fine- just one baby tooth left, but nothing to worry about. The twisting is her way of evasion I think. When I got her, she didn't bend at all, so for a while I was really happy with the exaggerated inside bend, but now she won't get round and use her back unless she is connected and her head is in the middle of her chest, not twisted.
When I ask for shoulder-in, I'm happy with two or three steps. Most of the time it feels like her butt is moving towards the wall rather than her shoulders moving away from the wall, so I don't do it too much with her because I don't want to teach her the wrong thing.
I'll try to maybe back off on the high expectations and make our rides fun. I also decided that she will only be ridden 4X a week this winter, so maybe that will help too. It's easy to forget that she's only been doing dressage since August. She's come so far- I don't even think of her as an inexperienced baby anymore, and my expectations for her are higher than for my 15yo gelding. This has been a helpful reality check...
So, your problem is thinking HOW you start renvers. But before that understand that si and renvers move the SHOULDERS. SI the horse looks away from the direction it moves, and it is the first step onto a (10m) circle ridden straight ahead.. Travers is the last step of the circle ridden straight ahead.But in travers you move the shoulders in BUT the flexion is opposite. However, the head and neck are straight on the long side with flexion toward the wall but looking straight down the longside. In short it is not just travers with opposite bend because the rider is mobilizing the shoulders, not the quarters.
So for renvers going to the right, first put your 'inside leg' (the one on the wall..left one) forward, and THEN put our 'outside' leg back (right leg back). In renvers to the right hand the horse is between the outside leg (right) and the inside rein (left). The inside leg (behind the elbow on left) pulses for energy.
A better way to start is as they do at the srs, which is through passade. Or if you can do a large turn on the haunches let the quarters lead at the very end as you come to the wall (the shoulders never 'arrive').
As far as the heel coming up, that is lack of stretch though the thigh/with a lowered knee. Remember when a leg is more back, the thigh is straighter/the knee is lower, the outside hip is more back as well. (And it should be passively like this when riding straight ahead as well.) And with a calf roll it is slightly more problematic. (When you get a dressage saddle get a used old passier, cheaper and little knee role.)
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