Haunches-out is more usually referred to as ‘renvers’.
So, what is renvers, and what’s its purpose?
What is renvers?
Renvers is a gymnastic straightening exercise that is basically the mirror image of travers (haunches-in). It’s used to develop the horse’s flexibility, increase his strength, and build muscle.
- The horse’s body is bent around the rider’s outside leg.
- The horse looks in the direction of travel.
- The horse’s inside hind leg steps underneath his weight.
- The hindquarters step along the wall while the shoulders follow the inside track.
In travers (haunches-in), the horse’s head moves along the wall, and he moves with his quarters at an angle of about 35-degrees to the inside of the track. The horse’s forehand is, to some extent, supported by the wall, so he finds it fairly easy to move forward.
However, in renvers (haunches-out), the horse’s forehand is not supported by the wall. So, that means he needs to be more securely on the rider’s aids to carry out the exercise correctly.
Also, whereas the horse can be positioned for shoulder-in and travers by riding a small circle first, that doesn’t work as effectively with renvers. With renvers, you need to bring the forehand off the track and then change the bend, which demands good coordination by the rider and obedience to the aids from the horse.
Renvers can be ridden along the wall, on a circle, and through corners as the ultimate suppling and straightening exercise.
Begin learning this exercise in walk and then when the horse is strong enough and understands the aids, renvers can be ridden in the trot and in the canter.
Before you start to teach renvers
Your seat should be balanced, and you must be soft and supple through your hips so that you can follow the horse’s movement without creating too much “background noise.”
You will need to be able to feel which hind leg is active as the horse walks, trots, and canters. That’s so that you can use your leg aids to encourage the horse to bring his inside hind leg underneath himself.
Feel is crucial, as you can only influence the horse’s hind leg when it’s lifting off the ground.
The horse must be able to work consistently forward through his back and into the bridle. He should also be able to maintain his balance through transitions, and he should be reasonably laterally supple around circles and through corners and turns.
Before you begin teaching your horse renvers, he must have an understanding of leg-yield and shoulder-fore. Also, the horse must understand and respond to a half-halt so that you can engage and rebalance him when necessary.
Renvers can be a confusing exercise to learn for the horse!
Here’s a step-by-step guide that explains how to teach your horse this challenging movement.
Always begin teaching renvers in the walk so that the horse has plenty of time to understand the aids before you move on to riding the movement in trot and canter.
First of all, you must teach your horse to make a smooth transition from shoulder-in to leg-yield.
Ride a small circle, and then proceed in shoulder-in along the wall.
Next, straighten the horse to the outside so that he is leg-yielding with his tail to the wall.
Keep the angle at approximately 30-degrees to the wall.
As you transition from shoulder-in to leg-yield, remember to move your inside leg back and put your outside leg on the girth.
Now, re-establish the bend and put the horse back into the shoulder-in position.
Repeat this exercise until you can easily move the horse from shoulder-in to leg-yield and back again without him losing balance or rhythm.
Now, reverse the bend by using your outside leg on the girth and placing more weight into your outside seat bone.
As you do that, flex the horse’s poll to the new direction, and ask him to bend so that his neck and chest are placed down the inside track, parallel to the wall.
That change of bend will reverse the shoulder-in and leg-yield, creating the renvers position.
Before you reach the corner, bring the horse’s shoulders back to the wall, and position the horse to the inside of the arena in readiness for the corner.
If your horse struggles to understand the exercise, try riding a shallow loop. As the horse’s forehand moves away from the track to follow the line of the loop, change the bend and continue in renvers.
As when teaching your horse any new exercise, always be ready to go back a few steps if the horse becomes upset because he doesn’t understand what you’re asking him to do.
Don’t ask for too much angle. Instead, begin by asking for a little bend and a shallow angle, increasing the positioning gradually as the horse becomes more supple and confident.
Renvers is a difficult exercise for the horse, so it’s not uncommon for problems to occur.
Here are some common issues that riders encounter when teaching renvers, together with ways to fix them.
1. Not enough angle
If the horse loses almost all the angle during the transition from leg-yield to renvers, you must bring his shoulders in from the track and start the exercise again.
2. The horse loses the rhythm
If the horse loses rhythm or the quality of the paces deteriorates, you must make him straight, and ride him forward. Once you’ve re-established the quality of the pace, start the exercise again.
For example, if you’re riding renvers in trot and things start to go wrong, come back to walk and start again until the horse is confident in the aids.
3. Too much angle
Too much angle is a common problem with all the lateral exercises, including renvers. This issue usually occurs because the horse has lost the forward impulsion. That can happen when the horse tries to evade the bend, escapes taking a contact with the outside rein, or overreacts to the driving aids of the outside leg.
To correct the problem, re-position the horse, reduce the angle, and ride forward into your outside rein.
4. Too much neck bend, not enough angle
If you use too much inside rein you will have too much neck bend and not enough angle. The horse will fall through his shoulder and probably tilt his head too.
Make sure that you’re using your leg to create the bend through the horse’s body, not purely by pulling his neck to the inside.
5. Horse canters instead of walking or trotting
Sometimes, the horse will break into canter instead of remaining in walk or trot. That can happen because the horse is evading your aids to the bend, or it could simply be due to a misunderstanding.
Remember that if you remove the renvers aid every time the horse canters, you will reward him for cantering, effectively training him to perform the movement incorrectly.
So, whatever the reason for the break in pace, you must keep your aids on and persist in asking for renvers. When the horse comes back to trot or walk, reward him with neutral, quiet aids, straighten out the movement, and praise him, before asking for renvers again.
Renvers is a very useful advanced exercise that’s used to improve the horse’s straightness and suppleness to the bend. The movement can also help to create more engagement and develop more collection.
Your horse cannot begin to learn renvers until he is confident in the leg-yield and shoulder-in. As with any new exercise, if your horse becomes tense and confused, go back to the beginning and start again.
Have you ever rode this movement? Tell us about it in the comments box below.