Shoulder-in II
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Tuesday, September 16, 2008 05:26 PM
Riding shoulder-in requires coordination of all aids. That is why walk is the best gait to learn a shoulder-in. It gives you time and steadiness to feel your own body and your horse. It is important to keep the walk regular, four-beat and with good tempo. However, a human brain cannot process too many things at once. If you are learning how to use your own body focus on that first and watch your horse's reactions to check on yourself. When you become more efficient you will be able to monitor the quality of the walk.
As you ride a 10 m circle in the corner make sure that:
  • Your hips are quiet and you engage your core muscles
  • You use your inside leg as a pillar to create bend. Your whole leg from the hip encourages your horse to move his ribcage to the outside and step under himself with the inside hind leg.
  • Your seatbones are level and your torso is level, no leaning to the inside/outside. This is very important for the successful shoulder-in after the circle.
  • Keep your body somewhat perpendicular to the horse's body, no excessive twisting in the torso.
  • Feel very good connection between outside seatbone and the saddle, otherwise you will not be able to lead your horse in the shoulder-in.
  • Your outside leg is behind the girth, your outside seatbone is slightly behind the inside one.
  • Your outside hip, thigh and knee create a perimeter of your circle, showing your horse where to go, with directional pressure if necessary. Your lower part of outside leg is stretched down and backwards around the horse to prevent haunches from swinging out. The whole outside leg is sort of stretched rod around your horse, it is quiet unless your horse pushes into it. The leg feels pressure and counteracts on it.
  • Inside rein is slightly open and low, asking for flexion but staying soft and quiet. Watch out for overbend in the neck. If you have it on the circle, you will have it in the shoulder-in.
  • Outside rein is very close to the neck, may even touch it or bare on it. It creates solid (but not stiff) connection from your outside hip through your shoulder, elbow, wrist toward horse's mouth. The outside rein shapes the horse for the circle and the shoulder-in after.
As you finish your circle and get back to the wall:
  • Let your horse make another step following the circle line. You want him to take his shoulders off the wall.
  • As soon as he does, half-halt on outside rein, feel yourself sitting well on outside seatbone, use your inside leg to direct him straight along the wall.
  • Your whole torso including hips and shoulders is looking inside the ring, your outside thigh should be parallel to the wall. If you find your hips perpendicular to the wall all your bend is in the neck. You are sitting right behind the shoulders. If shoulders are turned inside the horse's body follows. Only haunches remain on the wall.
  • Keep your alignment all the time, feel level and vertical, feel good contact on both seatbones, feel good connection on outside rein.
  • Your horse may try to get back to the wall with his shoulders or bring haunches off the wall too. You may need muscular effort of your pelvis to counteract him. Think about pushing your outside hip toward his inside shoulder and your inside hip toward his outside hip to keep correct alignment.
  • Your inside leg is working as a pillar and plus asks your horse to go forward. Inside leg keeps the bend, not inside rein.
  • Inside rein is asking for flexion and softness. It does not pull back and it stays quiet when softness is achieved.
  • All aids cease when the horse moves correctly. However, you keep your alignment and position until you change it to ask for a different movement.
Do not neglect the circle before shoulder-in, or at least ride your corner deep and correct. Ride only a few steps of shoulder-in. If you lose it do not try to fix it, get out of shoulder-in and start from the corner or a circle.
Happy riding...
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My blog is about teaching, riding and training. I share what is important to me in my work with horses and riders. The writing helps me to think things over and have a better understanding of training ideas and priciples.
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