You can watch the AND movie on lateral movements at liberty over here:
Bending towards sideways / lateral movements
(Just a short introduction on terminology:
side of the horse is the side that his head is bent to. The outer
side is the side that his head is bent away from. It's about the way the horse is bent (draw a line through his spine from head to tail: this line is a fragment of a circle: the center of that circle is the inner side of the body), it's not about where the fence and center of the arena are!
So when you look at the pictures:
-travers: the left side is the inner side, the right side is the outer side
-shoulder-in: left is inner side, right is outer side
-renvers: left is outer side, right is inner side)
A horse is built to move forwards, and is quite good at that.
Problems start when a horse start to move forwards in a crooked way. And most horses (just like right- or lefthanded humans) do: they can be crooked in different ways, but suppose your horse is always walking in a shoulder-in-like bend (see picture), even when walking on his own. Then he always steps with his left hindleg under the body, while the right hindleg steps out of the body. The left hindleg therefore carries more bodyweight and delivers more forwards power. As a horse is moving diagonally (actually just like humans, when you step forwards with your left leg, your right hand will swing forwards too!), this means that the surplus of power of his left hindleg is pushed towards the right shoulder. And the horse is crooked, not straight.
The goal of sideways movements is to use four kind of bends the body can have when being crooked (shoulder in, shoulder out, travers and renvers) and teach them again in a better way to the horse - and to provide the counter bend. If your horse is the shoulder-in horse, you will teach him through shoulder in at the same side to not fall over the right shoulder (as he would do when he is left on his own), but to keep his shoulders straight and turn the forward push of the hindleg into a more upwards carrying of the bodyweight. You would also teach the shoulder in to the other side (then it's called shoulder-out, with the head facing the wall ) in order to stretch and strenghten the opposite muscles too. You would also use travers, because your horse is used to lead by the shoulder: he pushes his shoulder into everything and trails out with the hindquarters. With the travers you ask the opposite, to move the hindquarters in and have the shoulders out. The renvers counters that again.The goals of sideways movements
When teaching the horse to go sideways in dressage, the goal isn't ot produce a western sidepass in which the horse just crosses his legs over another while maintaining straight in his body. Sideways in dressage exists of two parts, with two different, but both very important goals:1. Stretching towards collection
the first goal is tp have the horse bending through his entire body, from ears to tail. This bending is part of the process of straightening the horse, as it lengthens the muscles on the outside of the bend and shortens those on the inner side. When you look for example at the shoulder-in picture, the horse is bent to the left, which means that the muscles on the left side of his rump and neck are shortened, and those on the right side are stretched out. The horse is actually floating between collection and physical relaxation: a relaxed horse, walking stretched down and out, will lengthen the muscles on both sides of his body equally. A collected horse will shorten the muscles on both sides equally too. That's why the sideways movements are seen as the bridge between riding relaxed, and going towards collection: you strengthen both sides of your horses body seperately, and then you put them together into real (even, and straight!) collection.2. Engaging the hindlegs
When moving forwards, the horse places both hindlegs in the tracks of the frontlegs. When moving shoulder-in (see pic
), the left, inner hindleg is now not using the same track as the left frontleg, but is actually stepping in the track of the right frontleg. With that it's stepping centrally under the belly (where you would imagina your horses navel). In that this hindleg is carrying more body weight than the other hindleg, which when is actually reaching out away from the body mass as it is moving towards the outer side of the body (right side). This means that when doing the shoulder in (or out), the inner hindleg is burdened/activated more than the outer hindleg, and is also burdened and activated more than in a regular walk. Again, you train one side at at time!
That is also why horses are taught the shoulder-in before they start the travers/renvers: with the shoulder in the outer (right) hindleg is stepping away from the bend, as the body is bent to the otherside. With travers (see pic), the left inside hindleg is reaching forwards and not under the bodymass, but it is actually reaching towards the center of the circle you can draw through the body of the horse: this means it is engaged and burdened more than usual. When you look at the outside right hindleg, you see that this one is moving towards the center of the circle too, and under the horses body. This means that in travers and renvers, the horse is actually asked to engage and burden both hindlegs more than usual. You can see this very clearly in practice when you watch a horse in shoulder in and in travers: while the first exercise can look very smooth and wide, the latter will always be somewhat shorter and slower: it is more collected. Where at shoulder-in you only 'collect' one hindleg, at travers you 'collect' both of them. And that's why getting travers and renvers with the right bend through the body will take some time: it's more difficult as it demands more collection. But that's also why the travers and renvers are seen as ideal preparation for piaffe and collected movements.Developing sideways movements1. Stepping under with the inner hindleg
Stepping under while working in hand (you are walking next to the shoulder/head of the horse while facing the shoulder/hindlegs) is seen as the basis of classical training towards collection by various trainers. They train it with bridle or halter, but you can also teach it in cordeo or at liberty. In this exercise you walk a circle with your horse, you on the inside, and then you ask him not just to walk forwards (the hindfeet stepping in the tracks of the frontfeet), but to place his inner hindfeet more under the body: under the 'navel' of the horse, or in front of the other hindfoot.
In the beginning you only focus on the hindleg only, not on the place of the neck and head. That also has always been the thought behind classical dressage: if the hindquarters engage, the rest of the body will pull itself together in the right shape in the end too. When the horse starts placing his hindleg under his body correctly, he will start stretching and bending his rump and then bend his head and neck inwards, as you would like to see in for example the shoulder-in.
You start teaching your horse this exercise at halt, when he can be really conscious of his movements. Only when he realises how he should place his hindleg, you start asking this in halt, then when he steps under in halt nicely you can ask the same in trot, and in the end in canter too. By asking your horse to step under with his inner hindleg, you creact the soft bend through his body in which he curves his body along the track of the circle, with his head facing in and engaging his hindlegs actively.
On this website on classical dressage it's also used: http://www.sustainabledressage.com/roll ... _volte.php
Over here she uses a halter/bridle, but the idea is the same: ask your horse to step his inner hindleg under. When working at liberty, I would maybe stand a little further to the back the first time and tap the hipbone instead of the belly. That could be more confusing for a horse who thinks (from training in the saddle) that this means going forwards. Of course you can fix that with the halter/bridle as a brake, but at liberty you don't have that luxury.
So when starting, I would first tap the hipbone or maybe even the hindleg in order to ask that to move away from the touch, more under the body. I don't ask that with touching the rump yet, because I would want to be as clear as possible that I only want that hindleg, that the horse is free to let the rest of his body be, in order to avoid him tensing or fleeing forwards or bracing against the bend.
Once he understand the stepping under with his inner hindleg (and has earned lots of rewards! ), I would ask him to start to walk while stepping under, by move towards his shoulder and tapping/touching the girth area or the shoulder. Again, as clear as possible in order to let him understand that all I want is moving sideways away from me. And then walk a small circle with him following in this slight stepping-under bend. Most of all don't forget to walk forwards yourself! It's only too easy to start walking backwards when the circle is small, by that going in front of your horse and straightening him again without meaning to. When you walk your circle, try not to cue your horse if he's doing well, and only add a finger-cue or whip-cue if his hindleg forgets to step under, or when the shoulder steps forwards instead of sideways a bit.
Initially your cue for stepping under with the inner hindleg might be tapping/touching the hindquarters with your whip or hand. Once the horse has gotten the idea, you can turn the cue into tapping/touching the side of the girth on your side - where your inner leg would be from the saddle. That means that you teach your horse from the ground to react the the cue of your leg under the saddle. Pressure with one leg, will from then on mean 'step under with this hindleg'. Pressure with both legs, will mean 'step under with both hindlegs', for example to collect or move more forwards...
Another cue can become that you step sideways yourself towards the hindquarters, asking those to step out and under, while asking the head to move inwards by lowering your inside hand. And to start more collection in this stepping under, you can slow down and raise that inside hand a bit, asking the head and neck to do the same. At least that are the cues that Blacky, Sjors and I are using now when lungeing at liberty.2. Shoulder-in/out
In fact the shoulder-in is just an extension of the steppin under on the circle: while asking your horse to step under with his inner hindleg, leave the circle and continue a few steps in a straight line with the horse turning his HQ away from you, while facing you with his head - and reward!
When he wants to escape the bend by walking forwards, just ask him to halt and reward. Soon he will realise that even though you want him to leave the circle on a straight line, you don't want him to straighten his body, but instead keep the bend, with his hindquarters moving away from you and stepping under with his inner hindleg.3. Travers(haunches in)
In haunches-in/travers the horse has his head pointed yo the direction in which he is moving. It's like the opposite of shoulder-in: if it is performed next to the fence, the frontlegs move normally along the fence and the head is just facing forwards, while the haunches are kept turned in, pointing with the tail to the middle of the arena. (crude explanation, but I hope it helps visualising it )
The traditional way of teaching the horse the travers is by asking for shoulder out and then bending the head the other way with the reins. Another way is turning a small circle in the corner of the arena and when leaving the corner to follow the fence again, you maintain the bend with your hands and legs, and prevent your horse from taking his hindlegs back on the track with your outer hindleg. It does require quite some rein- and handwork at the start to prevent the horse from straightening or going too forwards again.
The thing that makes training travers/haunches-in possible at liberty/in a cordeo without touching the head, is the fact that the horse has a travers-button on his body: a spot on the side of his neck where, if you slightly push it, causes both the head and the hindquarters to turn towards you, while the belly bends away. But... it only works if your horse is supple and is not stiff, crooked or tense in one side of his body. If your horse is crooked and is bent to the left all the time, pushing on the base of his neck on the right just won't have a chance of making him flex to the right. So first your horse should be supple and even in his body, and that can be reached by the shoulder-in and stepping under at liberty. Even only doing so at walk will really make him move better, and strengthen him enough to be able to respond correctly to the travers (at least training that for a few weeks did it for Blacky, who has been very stiff and crooked all his life because a problem in the knee of his right hindleg).
The travers-button in reality is the third vertebre in the neck, counted from the shoulderblades. If you stand on the right side of your horse and ask him to flex his neck all the way to the left, you will see that a small lump appears on the right side of the neck in the lower half of the neck: that's the place that you're looking for. However, with a long wintercoat it can be a bit harder to find. Then it's just a question of trying various areas around this spot untill you've found the right one.
The easiest way to teach the horse to turn his haunches in, is to place him next to the fence - as you want to prevent him to move sideways away in a shoulder-in. When your horse is standing next to the fence, you place your fingers on the spot of the 3rd vertebra, and gently push there. When your horse moves forwards, backwards or towards you, ask him to stand still again and reward. Standing still is the basis: all you ask from him for now is to move that 3rd vertebra away from your (slight) pressure - and the only way to do that in this situation is to bend it away from your fingers, by bending his head and hips towards you, becoming a banana so to say. As soon as he only start to think of turning his hip in a bit, you release the pressure and reward. And reward big time, as you did use some pressure while blocking your horse with the wall.
If it doesn't work, try to see if touching another place on his neck does work, or if a little more pressure is needed. But if that doesn't work either, you should see it as a sign to make your horse more subtle first, as you just can't push through bracing musles.
Once your horse realises how to turn his hip in, he will very soon start to see your fingers in that position and your face pointing towards his hip as the cue for moving his hip in towards the center of the arena. Then you can ask from this standing with the hip in to keep the same posture when moving to walk. At first you do that by asking for standing with the hip in, one or two steps of walk with the finger in place, and then standing still with the hip in again. Soon your horse will realise that he can keep this bend while moving too - and you have haunches in/travers.
Some horses are really easy in this, like Sjors, who did it as soon as he was prepared enough with stepping under and shoulder in. With him it doesn't really matter either where you put your fingers on his neck, he immediately curls himself around you. With Blacky the realisation that he could really keep his hindquarters in while moving came a bit slower, and was really helped by using the whip as a target for his hip: I held it next to his body, asked on his neck to turn the HQ in, and and rewarded as soon as his hindquarters touched the whip.
Another thing is that at first the horse might turn his head away from you while stepping in with this HQ, as if he is doing shoulder-out towards you. At first it's just about the hips moving in, so reward that. Later on you can ask his head to bend towards you by asking him to touch your hand while moving sideways towards you, or by rewarding as soon as he turns it towards you himself. In the end the cue for travers can simply become that you turn around, facing his HQ, and start walking backwards away from the horse. Your horse will respond by turning his hindquarters in, 'curling his body around you' and follow you in travers.
When your horse can do travers (haunches in) without you touching his neck, you can transform it into renvers too: In renvers next to the fence the horse is turning his hindquarters towards the fence while walking forwards with his frontlegs and facing in the direction of the fence with his head.