In the medieval times, Terre à Terre was the gait of the fight, in which the horse was most maneuverable to go into charge.
In Renaissance and Baroque times, the exercise was used to make the horse more maneuverable.
In Terre á à Terre, the horse is free to move into any direction the rider wishes, to attack or avoid the opponent. The horse moves like a boxer or tennis player who is also in motion before he makes an attack or returns a ball.
The rider is so moveable in Terre á à Terre that it almost seems as if the rider is moving on his own feet.
Terre à Terre is like the levade, a step between the schools on the ground (like piaffe, passage) and the school jumps (like courbette, capriole). According to the definition of the Duke of Newcastle (1592 – 1676), Terre àTerre is a two-boated canter on two tracks.
The exercise consists of a series of small, low jumps.