When two-tracking to the left, your horse moves forward and laterally toward the left while maintaining a slight bend to the right. Journal photo.
Chances are, you use dressage techniques every time you saddle up. AQHA Judge and Professional Horsewoman Christa Baldwin explains two-tracking and haunches-in.
While the event itself seems like a completely foreign concept to many who ride in other disciplines, dressage really has more in common with your discipline than you realize. The “two-tracking” and “haunches-in” maneuvers in particular are useful to all horsemen – not just those who participate in dressage. AQHA judge and Professional Horsewoman Christa Baldwin explains why and shows you how to make sure your horse knows these useful maneuvers.
For this example, the maneuver is performed to the left. To go to the right, simply reverse your cues.
I teach this to my new students and all my young horses almost immediately.
For a right-to-left two-track maneuver:
- Pick up the right rein and bend the horse until you see its right eye.
- Apply your right leg (to begin moving to the left).
- Apply your left rein in a half-halt. When you pick up the left rein and feel your horse move laterally to the left, release softly but immediately and begin forward motion. (Note: If you pull too much, you take away the forward movement.)
Continue with leg pressure and pick up again on the left rein. Repeat this give and take (half-halt) with the left rein while continuing the right bend until you reach your destination.
I usually start this maneuver down the center of the arena and move diagonally toward the fence, keeping the shoulder and hip parallel with the fence. (The fence gives you a visual marker so you can see how well you’re staying on target, and you’ll know if you’re letting your horse’s hip drag behind or shoulder leak out ahead.)
If your horse’s shoulder gets ahead (too far to the left), correct the problem by applying more left rein to stop the shoulder and more right leg to encourage the hip to get straight and catch up with the shoulder.
Two-tracking is always a forward movement. If you’re not moving forward, you’re probably using too much hand and not enough leg and seat.
For a haunches-in (to the right) maneuver:
- Bend your horse’s head slightly to the right.
- Keep your right leg forward near the girth (this is the leg your horse will bend around).
- Slide your left leg back and apply pressure to bring the haunches to the right.
- Begin forward motion. As you move forward, half-halt (apply a give-and-take pressure) with the left rein. This is an indirect rein to the haunches that helps bring the haunches to the right.
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